Spring of 2020, the rush of COVID-19, swollen by paranoia, was alien and frustrating,” said Author Cheryl Petersen from upstate New York. “So, I researched history for clues on how to practice recovery of mind, body, and spirit.”
Petersen isn’t a religious person in the ritualistic sense but has faith in renewal as sourced by an undefeated reality, call it life, God.
Dialogue in The Second Husband conveys vibrant, wistful, imperfect personalities that struggle for transparency. “The transparency that lets the light of recovery flow through,” said Petersen.
Leading character, Daniel Patterson, was the second husband of Mary Baker Eddy, an advocate of spirituality echoing Christ. Together, Daniel and Mary faced the harrowing American Civil War (1861-1865).
Spring of 1862, the Pattersons had been together ten years. Daniel traveled to Washington D.C. to support the Union but got captured by Confederate Commander John Mosby and was incarcerated as a civilian prisoner.
Learning of her husband’s imprisonment, Mary fretted herself sick.
Petersen explained, “Mary was susceptible to spinal challenges and before Daniel left for the south, he encouraged her to employ mind-cure Doctor Phineas Quimby for healing. She went to Quimby after learning of Daniel’s escape, fall of ’62, and received physical and mental relief.”
Daniel escaped prison with a piece of bread and the clothes on his back. Haunted by fears of recapture and starvation, he walked at night, for seven weeks, 400 miles to Union territory where General Robert Milroy put him on a train home.
Reunited, Daniel and Mary moved to Lynn, Massachusetts in 1863, where he resumed his dental practice to support Mary as she traveled to stay in Maine for extended periods of time to receive mental treatments from Quimby and to experiment with the relationship between mind and healing.
Mary’s absences continued until Quimby’s death in ’66, arguably straining the Patterson’s marital relationship. Then in ’67, Daniel, along with other successful dentists, was sued for patent fees on rubber dentures by Josiah Bacon, a man who proved fraudulent and was later shot dead by another dentist.
Petersen said, “The trauma, drama, and stress were taken as opportunities rather than defeats. Daniel and Mary quit floating with change and used change to manifest revitalization.”
Daniel moved to a quiet town in northern New Hampshire and continued helping people with dental work. Mary stayed in Lynn, divorced Daniel in ’73, and he paid alimony while she wrote the book, Science and Health, calling the construct of her ideas, Christian Science.
“Christian Science, as I understand it, is the practical knowledge of God’s law interpreting recoverability,” said Petersen.
Mary taught the knowledge to students and helped thousands of others find mental and physical health. She wed Asa Eddy in 1877. He died five years later.
Mary Baker Eddy became well published, writing in the article, Christian Science Healing, “Rather than quarrel over vaccination, I recommend, if the law demand, that an individual submit to this process.”
In 1895, an interview of Daniel Patterson was published in The Weekly Standard, in Saco, Maine, his birth and death place, to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Civil War. The newspaper article is reprinted in The Second Husband.
Petersen said, “Daniel’s candor, strength, intelligence, and humor are transparent and give me hope that thirty years from now, I can translate the pandemic from frustration to recovery.”
The Second Husband: A historical fiction, by Cheryl Petersen, is available in print and eBook. Audiobook will be released in June. Petersen is also author of 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.
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