Recalling a Visit to Mary Baker Eddy Library

Ten years ago, I traveled from my agrarian hometown in Washington State to the big city of Boston. After the trip, our local newspaper, the Tri-city Herald, ran an article on my excursion, probably to prove I’d survived the 6,000-mile airline trip. With the

New York City Twin-Towers attack of Sept. 11, 2001, still growling at the heels of our minds, people were not exactly dashing to airports.

It took the special invitation to a pre-opening ceremony at the Mary Baker Eddy Library to intrigue me enough to pull on my boots, adjust to the Transportation Security Administration’s prodigious rules and regulations, snack on peanuts (yes, we got peanuts back then, free), and navigate my way around the Back Bay.

The official 10-year anniversary opening of the Mary Baker Eddy Library is Sept. 29, 2012, however, the pre-opening is what I remember.  Months before the doors opened to the public, a motley group of people was welcomed to the library to scan the books, test the audiovisuals and admire influential words bubble up from a water fountain in the Hall of Ideas.

Adjacent to the Hall of Ideas, I found the Mapparium, a 30-foot concave, stained-glass globe of the world, created circa 1935. As I walked inside the sphere, looking out at the earth and its expanse of waters and bordered lands, I came to terms with the feeling that the outdated map, charting colonialism in Africa, was no longer very practical and served merely as a classic piece of art.

Predictably, the Mary Baker Eddy Library offers public access to resources regarding the accomplishments and life of Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910 A.D.), author, spiritual leader and teacher. Eddy’s principal book was “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” which she revised many times over during her lifetime, adapting her message—branded Christian Science—to accommodate practically the burgeoning industrial and social changes occurring in the nation and world during the 19th century.

Numerous Bible versions are sheltered in the library, but I didn’t spend any time reading them, since I have more than half a dozen Bible versions in my own home. Fortunately, the many Bible versions pitch against the notion of one true Bible.

As discomforting as it may be, human consciousness is constantly changing, causing me to reinterpret and reorient how I interact with others or even how I celebrate anniversaries. My article, printed 10-years ago in the Tri-city Herald, describes what can be found in the library’s “81,000-square foot building.” However, I find myself today not recalling a building, a tourist attraction, or words in books, but a state of mind that acts on bravery, integrity and the regard for others as though they are valuable.

Basically, I felt safe flying and the people of Boston helped this farm girl get around the big city. For mostly, I recall a seven-minute incident that still brings a smile to my face. At the end of the library’s pre-opening, I was standing in a crowd of persons from around the world in the Hall of Ideas, listening to a speaker talk about something unmemorable.

The speaker finished. There was silence. Someone, somewhere, started singing words of a poem written by Eddy. There was a crescendo as everyone joined in, ending with a quintessential exquisite blend of intonation, pitch and harmony—a cappella at its finest.

Cheryl Petersen is a correspondent for the Delaware County Times and a freelance writer. Her book is “21st Century Science and Health.” She now lives in upstate New York and can be reached at [email protected] For more information, visit Paterson’s Web site at

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