To get up and go. To stand up. To arise. Before we can experience the new, before we can be free - we need to get up. And go. This traffic-light woman is already doing it. Go!
Nobody can make this one decision for us. It is more a right than a must. We are free to do it, always. There is a mental space - an open space, a wide space, even if we feel trapped, in a tight spot, in a place where we don’t belong, in a work which has turned out to be a dead-end, a relationship which doesn’t work anymore, peer pressure which has pushed too far. This might be the picture, but we can go deeper. There is an assurance which has been inspiring me, from the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: „There is moral freedom in Soul.“ There is the essential freedom to do what is right, to pursue what is good. To accept our true being.
The Bible is the essential book of humanity, and much more so every time I open it. Like millions of others, every day. In a few descriptions of healings by Christ Jesus we read: „Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.“ These words took on a much deeper meaning in the last week. While helping a friend this invitation by Jesus applied directly to our time and it translated for me like this: "Stand up for your freedom, stand up for God, discover the divine right of self-government, rejoice in this open space, in this space in which you can move freely. Be a law to yourself. Take up what you don’t need any more, pack up what is worn out. Take only the essentials. And go. Go into your own house, cherish your true identity as God’s child and be at home there. Do what is normal, be at home."
And then I opened a new book which a friend gave to me recently, „Short Notes from the Long History of Happiness“ by Michael Leunig. It is all here: The freedom, the movement, the essentials, the determination, the resilience and the joy of discovery. How to get there. You might be surprised to find that these insights apply to change as much as to healing. How to get there. Now you know.
Can we meet? Truly meet? We meet when we come together. We meet when we are truly there. We meet when we are in the same situation, in the same room, on the same sidewalk. Mentally in the same space. Everything else is just eyewash. In some languages the word „to meet“ includes a past tense of „to walk towards each other“.
From a wealth of meaningful encounters with people, Paul could hand out advice to the little tough group of early Christians in Corinth: „No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.“ So truly meeting is seeking your own in another’s good. What is good for the other will be good for you. Staying with the other is key, being there mentally is key. Meeting means listening without retreating to your own perspective.
To remain with our brother/our sister as we talk. To refrain from steering their perception of us. To be with them. To honor the space they occupy. „Where God is we can meet, and where God is we can never part,“ writes Mary Baker Eddy.
Where God is, is freedom, equality, dignity, and appreciation. Without freedom the mental space to rethink is wanting. Without equality we don’t move mentally towards individuality but delve on gender, age, race, class. Without dignity we have already forgotten what man is. Without appreciation we have no clue what Love is.
Mary Baker Eddy dictated to Adelaide Still in 1910:
„The deepest hallowed intoned thought is the leader of our lives, and when it is found out people know us in reality and not until then. The surface of the sweetest nut is often a burr…“
When we truly meet we will know each other in reality, and this knowing will set us free. Because we will give each other the gift of finding each other as we truly are.
So now: Can we meet?
"I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun," said Thomas Edison. "Working is one of the most dangerous forms of procrastination," writes Gretchen Rubin in a blog post. Interesting and challenging – and a great reason for sharing some thoughts on work. Some thoughts on how to fill the bread tin.
I feel that the cleverness of the mythological Adam&Eve story is a great start to learn how not to be deceived ever. And this should not only apply to an encounter with talking snakes, it could also apply to how to deal with the question: Will there ever be enough bread in the bread tin?
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread…" I read in the Adam&Eve story. This curse implies fruitless toil for Adam, a constant round, a circular life – and looked at it through Adam's eyes it presents a closed circle from which is no escape. Thorns and thistles grow despite all the efforts – and what makes things worse is that Adam has no clue about unselfishness. He only toils for himself… Poor guy!
A different story is told by Jesus, our wise friend and companion, who is the best coach I can imagine: His story is about a man sowing good seed in his field, dealing with an enemy who comes at night and tries to compromise the harvest by sowing tares. This man instructs his assistants on what to do with the tares and the wheat – and the harvest is feeding everybody.
Field work again, no plowing this time, just sowing – and harvesting and filling the bread tin. Here the tares appear only shortly and are clearly marked – “an enemy has done this”, while Adam toils and yields the thorns and thistles from the very start. Also, Adam is working because he is kicked out and forced to work, while this wise and prudent farmer is evidently the owner of the field – and a certain lightness accompanies his work. I always see in front of me a painting by Vincent van Gogh – a man sowing seed in the glowing sunshine. What is sweat? What’s a charley horse? Also, the fruit is in abundance, the barn indicates supply for many and for many days to come. The first account mentions only one individual and doesn't imply a provision of prospective days.
Last, but not least: In the first account loneliness is hovering, whereas the second is filled with people, a network of qualities. In explaining this parable Jesus says later on, that the angels are the reapers – I know that this is a long stretch for those of you who have a certain distance from religion and the Bible. The angels, to me, symbolize that the lightness of being is our natural habitat and that community – being and working together – is what we are meant to be. The whole story conveys something about the lightheartedness of the kingdom of heaven, "the atmosphere of Spirit, where Soul is supreme" (Mary Baker Eddy).
What can we learn from both stories? How can you approach work – be it donkeywork, a research project, a pile of laundry, a white-collar occupation, assigned jobs, papers to write, or simply something that must be done?
Find an aspect of your task ahead which truly feeds you. Most often this will not be the paycheck in the end but qualities which you express. Sometimes resilience and stoic patience will already do.
See how your work blesses others and make it a point to work together and to lighten the burdens for everyone you meet. A little unselfishness to start with.
Own the work – it doesn’t matter how far away from owning a company you are or what kind of an entrepreneur you want to be.
Detach your work from the money question – even if the money question is the reason. This is important because of an observation from Anna-Zoë Herr, writing: “Isn’t work a result of expressing Life rather then a cause for it?”
Finally: Take a moment to think what kind of wheat you are sowing and harvesting and what kind of bread you are making from it. It will feed you – and as soon as it is on the table it is yours to share.
(Thank you Kelly Byquist and Josh Kenworthy for editing!)
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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