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Sermon Delivered at Unitarian Universalist Church 2009

By Cheryl Petersen
When I was a child, I lived with my family on a farm in Washington State. After High School, I earned a Bachelors Degree at Colorado State University and then returned home to get married and start a family. Not real imaginative, but the story soon becomes more creative! During the child raising period, I had a public office as a spiritual healer. I do have a religious background. And, my brain has been hard-wired to direct my faith to a good God, more specifically, FatherMother God. Funny thing about the brain though, this lump of white and grey matter isnt very reliable. My brain will occasionally trigger doubts concerning the reality of a good God, especially when the horribleness in the world overwhelms my attention. But, I have discovered that when faith advances to understanding, my consciousness, or the power of Mind, can override the brains messages. Therefore, I make great effort to understand God. Excuse me, I take that statement back I make great effort. Sometimes, I make great effort to gain spiritual understanding, other times, I am asked to understand, and yet other times, I am forced to understand. Let me explain my differing degrees of effort in the context of one Father-Mother. As a practitioner giving mental treatment for healing, I do make great effort to understand my clients are in fact the likeness of complete Being. There is no male or female client, there is only male and female, complete and health. Incompleteness is an illusion. As our thought power pierces the illusion, we then experience healing, mind/body/spirit. This is true not only for my clients, but also for myself. I remember a particularly depressing time for me when I was tempted to use my mental powers to quit life. It was after a terrible accident and I had 2nd degree burns on half of my face. Burns leave scars. But, as I lay in intensive care, a story I had read in the Bible popped into my head. It was about Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego, 3 men who were thrown in a hot fiery furnace because they prayed to God instead of the king. The 3 men lived,

and came out of the fire unharmed. I figured, if those 3 guys can do it, I can. Sure enough, I continued with the mental treatment based on the fact that God is my life, and experienced great spiritual healing. Mental treatment is more common than we realize. Consider the hard sciences. Scientists look beyond the illusion of a geocentric universe, and thought power allows us to send Mars Landers and orbiters, into outer space. Mind is powerful. Now, What about the times when I am asked to understand? When our daughters were young, my husband and I became licensed foster parents. Let me tell you about Kim before we met her. Kim is not her real name. When she was a baby, Kims mother would put alcohol in her bottle instead of milk. As Kim got older the mother would give her heroin, telling Kim it would make her feel better. Needless to say, Kim became a drug addict and was removed from her situation by the Child Protective Services and put in rehab. She was also treated for a STD. All before she was thirteen years old! After rehab, she came to our home. I began homeschooling Kim until she was ready to enter the public school system part-time; or rather, until the school was ready to accept her. During the days though, Kim and I always found positive activities to do and we got along fine. Soon enough, the State of Washington appointed a Counselor for me to take Kim to. We met the counselor at the appointed time and after the meeting, the counselor took me aside and asked, Did you know Kim was previously diagnosed with a mild mental disability along with all her self-destructive habits? Not really, I answered. The counselor observed my awkwardness and ended the conversation by saying, Whatever you are doing, keep it up, because I cant find any mental disability now and she is doing much better. I was being asked to understand what I was doing. I knew I was practicing my faith. And, faith is great, but until faith advances to understanding, it cant be practiced consistently. This is similar to having faith in a computer software program, but not really understanding how the program works. We can even have someone teach us how to use the program, but when we come to a problem, we are lost. We click and try different key strokes and maneuver around on the computer screen hoping to get out of the mess. And, if we do get out of the mess, usually, we dont have a clue what we did. How is it we gain understanding? It is through experimentation or study of knowledge. It occurred to me I am a metaphysical scientist and understanding is inevitable.

We all are scientists in one way or another. We wake up in the morning and theorize about how our day will go. We experiment all the time with money, happiness, and diets. We test one another. And, we draw up multifarious fabulous conclusions. As a mental scientist I examined the theory of one father-Motherproviding, guiding, and healing all of us equally. Two different results became apparent. Number 1. Whenever my view of my clients, or of the children, was attached to their human diagnoses, a loss of control was felt. Number 2. Whenever my view of my client was interconnected to one Father-Mother, the power of Mind would provide me with effective ideas I would have never come up with on my own. My mind was open to productive activity and less intrusive healing methods. My conclusion is: that when my premise for mental treatment begins with spiritual goodness, instead of a conditional situation; physical, mental, and emotional improvement is tangible. It isnt always easy to start the thought process with a Higher Power that is good. We are habituated animals. We automatically focus on that which has no more power than we give it. I have to watch what I am giving my attention to. Sometimes, my attention is so tight with my own personal paradigm that I dont even realize how inattentive it is to one Father-Mother. For example, my paradigm of happiness comes from what is generally termed a traditional family. As a child, my dad provided very well for our family of 7. He guided us firmly. My mom cared for us with a healing touch. I love my parents. I love my family. Putting aside the fact that mom and dad were work-a-holics, my childhood was simple and untroubled. The traditional family worked. I have faith in the traditional family. I practice it. But this is an isolated perspective and I have to agree with the Dalai Lama, when he wrote in his book, Essence of the Heart Sutra, When we remain isolated from one another we sometimes get distorted pictures of traditions or beliefs other than the ones we ourselves happen to uphold; in other words, we may mistakenly believe our own religion is somehow the only valid one. In fact, before I left Tibet and had close contact with other religions and other religious leaders, I myself held such views! But ultimately, I have come to see that all traditions have great potential and can play a very important role in benefiting humanity. To take on a new paradigm doesnt mean we leave behind the good in our own tradition. As a foster home, we maintained the traditional family, and yet we were nontraditional because of the mix and match of children. The point was benefiting humanity.

And now, I will reflect on the times when I am forced to understand one FatherMother. Life is interesting to say the least and life is so unbelievably believable that I know I am alive. Life exists. I exist. But, I didnt snap myself into existence, of that I am sure. Did I come from mom and dad? What mom and dad? There is no tactile evidence that mom and dad created me, or even, exist. At the turn of the century, even though they had the best medical care, I watched both of my parents die, first my dad and few years later, my mom. The evidence of the belief that mom and dad created me would never hold up in court. I have a few photos and some ashes. However, the evidence of faith that mom and dad did exist is stronger. I clearly remember them and the good times. I still hear their voices, not in some supernatural abstract way, but the awareness is calm; an inspiration that strongly encourages me to understand a Father-Mother who continues to provide, guide, and heal. I would like to read a paragraph from 21st Century Science and Health, a revision of Mary Baker Eddys Science and Health. In [divine] Science, [we] are the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute our ancestry. The origin of our spirituality is not like that of human beings, in undomesticated instinct, nor does it pass through material conditions prior to reaching intelligence. Spirit is our native and ultimate source of being; God is our FatherMother, and Life is the law of our being. What if the idea of one Father-Mother doesnt really mean anything to you? Or produces skepticism? I can relate to those positions, my human life isnt all roses and cinnamon rolls. But, I found a Calvin and Hobbes comic that answered those questions with humor. Try to picture, Hobbes, who is incredulous as he is looking at Calvin, who is shirtless and flexing his 7 years old muscles sin front of the mirror, repeating, Made in the image and likeness of God. A humanlike God produces skeptics. A Godlike person, however, inspires us to reach our greatest potential. I would like to conclude this reflection by repeating how important it is to make an effort to gain spiritual understanding. I am reminded of an experience that confirms yet another picture. I dont have to GET understanding, because spiritual understanding reveals itself to us all. Let me explain. We had a nine year old foster boy stay with us or about a year. He was categorized as very detached. How could he be blamed, everything was always taken from him. He was hardened to believe and act as though he was unwanted, unable to reach out and touch. He was very hard to love. So, I told myself to love the hell out of him. Daily, I affirmed the idea of one Father-Mother. Although there were desperate times, the fostering experience was constructive. He even experienced physical healings. And, surprisingly, ad adoptive home was found. It was an unusual circumstance, but it had to be.

On the day before the child was to move permanently to his new home, he asked to go with me on my daily walk. So, outside we went. We talked a little bit. We watched the sunset. And, about half a mile before returning home, the child slipped his hand in mine. We walked quietly together because neither of us had words to explain how thankful we were to understand we are wanted, we are provided for, guided, and healed. Cheryl Petersen is author of 21st Century Science and Health. She lives in upstate New York and freelance writes.