Religion Column: Saluting the Unseen, June 30, 2018

Once upon a July 4th, a group of us in church decided we’d sing patriotic songs at a retirement care center. We arrived dressed in red, white and blue, ready to perform before a subdued audience, just finishing lunch in a large dining room.

I sat to play the piano and church friends started singing Americas favorites.

The time-for-nap audience wasn’t singing along. But, I kept playing and buddies kept singing.

In between the third and fourth song, a friend touched my shoulder and nodded for me to look around.

I looked and saw an audience sitting straighter. I saw tears in eyes. I watched a man struggle to stand up and out of his wheelchair. He steadied himself and raised his hand to his forehead to join the other men who had risen to salute.

There was no American flag in the room. Neither were the salutes directed at us. But they were definitely observing and saluting something real.

An unseen.

I couldn’t possibly know the vast unseen memories and knowledge of births, deaths, marriages and dreams fulfilled or dashed in that room. And I didn’t need to.

During World War II, these men and women fought on the side of protecting freedom. They were called upon to sacrifice personal protections for the sake of protecting European’s freedom from conformity to Hitler’s thinking.

The moral sense of those seniors saw beyond the horrible effects of bigotry and fear, to the unseen power of natural and legal rights for all people.


Rights are unseen. But they must be recognized and fought for or they materialize into the claims of degradation and unfairness.

In 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was drafted to speak to American’s rights of equality, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The declaration went up against British leaders who believed their governing system was fair and credible. They probably told the Americans, “It’s worked for us, try harder to make it work for you.”

But evidence speaks louder than past successes. The Brit’s system wasn’t working for the pioneers for a multitude of reasons. And, from 1775 to1783, suffering and loss increased during combat fighting before the United States won their independence from the Brits.

This is not to overlook the fact that the United States ignored the rights of Native Americans, Blacks and women. It’s also not to overlook the fact that future Brits revised their system in line with the rights of progress.

More work is coming forth.

Is it not a fight, or at least hard work, to win independence from being overweight? Is it not work to get along with our spouse every day? Is it not work to raise responsible children?

Yes, and sometimes it’s such hard work it brings tears to our eyes when we find we survived the progress.

I try to ask myself daily:

Am I recognizing and fighting for what is right rather than who is right?

Am I seeing and working for the rights of truth rather than of gossip?

Am I admitting and working for the rights of freedom rather than restriction?

I hope so. But I’ll take a minute now to stand and observe the unseen good, independently expressed by you. I’ve worked with you. I’ve been to prayer meetings with you. I’ve interviewed you. I salute you.

Cheryl Petersen lives in Delhi. Her books are, “21st Century Science and Health: A revision of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health” and “I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter,” from science and religion to God.

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