What a simple, inexpensive, low-threshold way to tell the other "I see you, you are worthy, I care about you". Asking "how are you?" and meaning it, is like a daisy someone presents you with. Simple and without a big fuss. The honest interest is key - separating the question from a strategy. An honest question "How are you?" is a small expression of awareness - and it is linked to divine Love.
Love, God, loves man with a deeply nourishing, extraordinary, distinguishing love. This is a fact, which spiritual sense perceives. Jesus knew and explored and taped into this truth continuously, and we can do it, too. Spiritual sense tells us that this fact is felt and realized with an active sense of love. We discover love as we discover that love is a noun and a verb.
Being in the CS practice full-time gives me ample opportunity to share something of this love daily - and I feel that in this respect my former work as a university professor asked for the very same task, every day. In consultation hours students would pour out their challenges, frustrations, shortcomings. And I would listen and pray and come up with helpful ideas and supportive answers. I was told more than once that hallways seemed wider and colors brighter after people left the office. This is what divine Love does to all of us.
I have been pondering how to put into practice even more love and care every day, and I discovered the powerful "how are you" again. This is because recently a checkroom attendant of a reading room in the State Library of Berlin, which I regularly attend, took me aside and told me how she is looking forward to my visit each week. Because of the warmth and friendliness. "You know", she said, "if you work with people, you notice a lot. " Last year I had learned a lesson on the farmer's market, when I went up to my favorite farmer starting with the first item on my shopping list - when I got stopped in my tracks: "First of all: "Good morning, lady! How are you today?" I paused, excused myself, we chatted and I left enriched and instructed.
St. Paul writes: "God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God."
(2 Corinthians 9: 8-11; The Message).
We are not the comment box or advice column of the entire world, not the doormat for anyone who is starting drama in your life just to have something happening in his. We are not meant to be kind of a 24/7 pharmacy for our surrounding, or psychological advisors or mentors to anybody anywhere. I know people who over the decades I know them have never asked me what I am thinking, not even how I am doing. I have been in settings where some people didn't give a tip to a waiter, didn't say "thank you" to a server or an auto mechanic, or a taxi driver. A stewardess told me that a large number of passengers doesn't look up when the tomato juice appears on the folding table in front of them. Many students or patients are grateful beyond a normal expression of thanks - but also many just continue with their lives as their problem is solved. These are observations - and I can see how the project of Christianity, which started with Christ Jesus' extraordinary sacrifice and commitment to teach us love, is unfinished business.
We love because it is the right thing to do. Not because we get something back. Many times we won't. But who cares? A new life is waiting for all of us, looking something like this:
"True, the heart grows rich in giving;
All its wealth is living grain;
Seeds which mildew in the garner,
Scattered, fill with gold the plain.
Is thy burden hard and heavy?
Do thy steps drag wearily?
Help to bear thy brother's burden,
God will bear both it and thee.
Is the heart a well left empty?
None but God its void can fill;
Nothing but a ceaseless fountain
Can its ceaseless longings still.
Is the heart a living power?
Self-entwined its strength sinks low;
It can only live in loving,
And, by serving, love will grow."
Elizabeth Charles. Hymn # 360. CSH
We can acknowledge how much good, how much gratitude, how much love is already being shed on us. Even if this is only a hint and even if your heart is still aching and an unpaid bill is still on your desk and the broken iPhone case still waiting to be replaced and the pile of washing still staring at you and the job interview still not being prepared as it should be and the boss still not responding to our request - still there is the gentleness of goodness waiting to be felt, the divine resource at hand which reminds you that the burdens of others are equally daunting. And that there is enough Love to meet every need, everywhere.
In the old life we might have wrapped ourselves in our worries and our stories like a small bundle and wondered why we were not warm. In the new life we wrap up all mankind in one love because we have been wrapped up by Love. We look into each other's eyes and ask whether we can do something to ease the other's burdens. I have seen healings happen after this central issue had been settled, after the question "How can I be healed?" had been transformed into the question: "How can I love more?". So: How are you today?
Do we need a material body to sense spiritual power? How do we know supreme intelligence, real intelligence, not intellect? Is there something like divine energy? Does man live because Life lives and not the other way round? Is Love continuous?
The timeless Easter message gives answers, solid, good answers. And really good questions. For all time to come. Here is food for thought from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 43/44):
"The final demonstration of the truth which Jesus taught, and for which he was crucified, opened a new era for the world. (...)
Human law had condemned him, but he was demonstrating divine Science. Out of reach of the barbarity of his enemies, he was acting under spiritual law in defiance of matter and mortality, and that spiritual law sustained him. The divine must overcome the human at every point. (...)
Could it be called supernatural for the God of nature to sustain Jesus in his proof of man's truly derived power?"
Can anything overpower Life, in the short or long run? And can anyone create a tulip - from scratch?
"Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightning appear and cause it to strike as you direct? Who gives intuition to the heart and instinct to the mind?" (from Job 38)
So can anyone truly make Life disappear?
What about dedicating your life to sharing with the world one of the most important messages of all: "You are loved!" Are you in? This love is unconditional, because it is not human. It is divine - that is continuous, spiritual, constant, indestructible, boundless, unceasing, immutable, permanent. This love is forever present tense. The open secret of the universe is that there is love, that God is Love. Practically everything around us tells us something about this love of Love, we use the senses of Spirit and we perceive this love everywhere. And if you wonder how one can write this: perceiving love, feeling love, is a little like old-fashioned radio: You need the right frequency for your program. And this frequency is a tender spiritual sensitivity.
About ten years ago I came across a report of healing entitled "Freed from depression" by Alex Cook which stayed with me. It is a beautiful story of searching, struggling, and finally prevailing:
"I often wondered, "Who will I be when I am free from all this?" The practitioner exhorted me to have faith in my ongoing transformation. It often took strength and persistence beyond what I thought I had, but ultimately I found that I could do it. I could look forward to emerging from this experience a better man.
One morning as I was getting ready to go to work, a thought came to me that eventually led me to freedom. I had not had time to read the Bible and pray as I usually did, so as I walked out the door, I simply prayed, "God, protect me today. I need to live my life." Over the next weeks, I began to treasure the meaning of that prayer. It was a great shift to really trust God with my life. Trusting Him took my attention off the fear, and let me live life "to the hilt," as the practitioner often encouraged me to do. Instead of trying to do things "right," I began to concentrate on living with inspiration. It was like learning to fly. As the false supports fell away, I felt lifted up little by little on the wings of fresh inspiration. Sometimes it was something as simple as asking, "Does God love me?"—and immediately knowing, "Yes! He does."
With each trusting step, I began to see that the responsibility to be perfect was not really mine but God's. We only have to mirror God's perfection. Little by little, there were moments when I was honestly glad to be alive. Then those moments began to string themselves together. New people, jobs, and opportunities came into my life."
(Read the full report here.)
You can imagine my joy when I discovered that Alex Cook is an artist. I even came across his artworks, which beam with beauty, creativity, respect, artistic authority, and this very special community spirit that often artists know more about than the rest of us. You can discover more than 120 murals already, some of them under the heading "You are loved", in the US and other countries. Alex Cook was also presented as "Difference Maker" for a special feature of The Christian Science Monitor, entitled "Alex Cook paints walls, not canvas, with a message of hope and love."
A friend of mine spent her teenage years reading biographies, hundreds of biographies - to be now a difference maker of her own and writing beautiful books herself. Reading stories like the one by Alex Cook is like the reading program of my friend for me - I read reports of healing since I can read like that. Little biographies, if you will, stories about how to live a life with good. These stories are telling me something about the power of love and are teaching us an individual way how to live with love and live love. They are the true writing on the wall. We see how lives are healed, mended - and how in turn they do change our world for the better. We will be able to get meaning to our lives if we discover God as our life, too, our life being in the focus of Love. Alex Cook's life and art will unfold its own magic in this regard - discover it on www.stonebalancer.com.
"We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first." (I John 4: 19, The Message)
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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