Someone from the city hall called a few weeks ago. The contracted moderator for a large conference on "Dialog among religions for and with children and young people" had cancelled at the last minute - whether I could step in, in a few hours, and moderate - on the spot? Without hesitation I said "yes", went a few hours later to Berlin's city hall, prepared with prayer and a quick research on the run, and it went so well that people thought I had been the contracted moderator.
Why did I do that? Had I been transformed into a doormat? Well, I do it, because I know from myself how good it feels to hear this instant word: "Yes". And how rare this happens.
The reason why I could say "yes" was, of cause, that I could. An appointment for the afternoon had been cancelled a few minutes before the call from city hall, so I was free to do it. I also have the experience of speaking in public. But there was more for me behind it. A long-term experiment, a learning curve of many years which brought me to this freedom and ease.
I find it pure luxury to meet my day prepared with joy and spiritual authority. "Truth is affirmative and confers harmony", writes Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures on p. 418, and the more you let his thought do something with you, the more you see its validity and authenticity. It cannot just be a sentence - it is fact for life. There is a wonderful, shining YES in God, Truth. Preparing my day with Truth helps me to be open for good and willing to serve. I have almost never regretted a yes, but a few no's through the years.
Since you will meet more "Let me see if it fits my calendar," "I have to think about it," Or, "Well, if I were you, I wouldn't do this but rather do that," and since we cannot change the world, only ourselves, we are up again for being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. It is as if the obvious lack of immediacy in affirmative responses on our planet interrupts the joyful rhythm of daily life. There is some stumbling, just a little resistance to spoil a good idea or avoid meeting an urgent need. Or move a good project forward. Or ease the burden of a neighbor. There is more wisdom in "yes" than you might think at first - and I promise to write a blog one day about "the immediate no". But not today.
You can run "the instant yes" as a personal experiment and see how it goes. After all, life is all about learning that Love is All, and this might be an aspect of it that explains this concept to you. It has to be practical, otherwise forget it. We can start by looking at requests of help as a ball thrown at us. Will we join in? Is it probably a divine calling? Lets find out.
Christ Jesus is inviting us to join in the game of the daily interchange of love - he teaching a kind of unambitious, attitude of instant unselfishness towards others:
“You have heard that it used to be said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, but I tell you, don’t resist the man who wants to harm you. If a man hits your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.
Is whats pulling at your sleeve for attention urgent or important? Is there a way to distinguish between the urgent and the important in order to live in an honest way "first things first"?
During a demanding phase of my work, the winter term being in full swing, I sat in my bed late at night resisting the temptation to skip the little reading project I was undertaking. I opened the book at the bookmark, turned the page and reached a quote by Mary Baker Eddy, a council to someone who had asked her advice:
“You can take my method, bar your doors, and then hold your solitude with moral dignity by meeting the merciless selfishness of callers with a fixed rule and the divine imperative Principle to be alone with God and never break this rule till you have your interval of study and prayer. I am an exception to all peace on earth – but not to “good will.” The mail and the male and the female claim undisputed powers to break my peace and rob me of all individual exemption from labor. But you have no need of thus surrendering your rights for others. I have written this in bed in the still hours while others sleep, - after 3 o.c. in the morning.” (Mary Baker Eddy is quoted in the biography by the Episcopalian minister Lyman Powell. Mary Baker Eddy: A Life Size Portrait. MacMillan 1930, p. 182)
Did she write this to somebody else, and not to me? I copied this note and considered and pondered it for the following days and weeks. I saw how I, too, could distinguish between the urgent and the important, how I could learn to find and keep my peace instead of surrendering to the needs of others - and still live an unselfish, gentle, giving life. The wisdom and wit stayed with me, too. Putting first things first - a decision, an attitude of service, loving what is important (or otherwise not pretend that it is).
Recently, the blogger Seth Godin wrote about urgent vs important and shared an insight that made me remember Mary Baker Eddy's note:
A six-year-old who throws a tantrum and refuses to go to school is escalating into the urgent.
Wow, Seth Godin, you are more metaphysical and spiritual than you probably know. You share solid wisdom, which is very real advice in the spiritual world, too. Taking care of the important things is effective, I get from both quotes, because it handles with authority the belief in opposing forces. In forces pulling at us and trying to tear us apart. Or forces pushing at us, instilling stress and pressure. Strain or stress, pulling or pushing. In humility we leave the mix and pull and push of "urgent or important", put first things first - and feel the warmth and grace of an ordered life.
"Honesty is spiritual power," writes Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures on p. 453. The marginal heading of the paragraph containing this idea has this poetic description "Knowledge and honesty". I wonder whether this honesty is a power in three ways: Honesty towards God (in charge of our most inner self and our all), towards others (our sisters and brothers) and towards ourselves.
Lets talk about the last one: Honesty towards ourselves - it might be called self-knowledge, some call it introspection.
C. G. Jung observes that "everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” This shouldn't sound like a threat, really. Honesty is not a threat. It is an instrument for progress. Divine Love is moving us forward in individual and unique ways, and those ways are safe, sure, and peaceful. The best movement is ensured when the point of departure is clear. Where do we start? It can be a secret between God and us - and most often it is. What do we need to learn? What can we learn today? We can know where we stand and let honesty do its thing. "Knowledge and honesty". As a friend once told me - a new insight is sometimes terrible, seldom uncomfortable for a few days, but then it is great.
We might think we are doing something right when we are praying for our business to succeed, or for a shaky relationship to become stable, or a talent to be expressed in supply. But the prayer is honest, when it roots within this inner transparency, humility and honesty that is called self-knowledge or introspection. In the most inner self. In order to know, really know, whether the prayer is honest listening or mere human will.
This honesty might lead to the insight that the venture we are undertaking is not what we should do, that the relationship is not meant to be and that the talent we think will carry us into fame and happiness is not the one that truly matters - but the talent we have overlooked and not put to use... why? well, lets find out.
The next step after honesty is to put the findings into context and to agree that the ego, human self or "monkey mind" (from the Chinese xinyuan, meaning the restless and indecisive personality) is not what truly matters. The human ego can be left where it is. Because it is God, the one supreme consciousness, the one Mind, that is the only source of knowledge. Honesty in regard to this one Mind is what really matters.
God is Mind and holy thought is sending;
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and as a writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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