We are probably accustomed and trained to seeing healing as a gift, a talent, an art - some people can heal and comfort and help others move forward in their lives, while others simply can't. The narration of saints in religious history follows this line of thought - the chosen few and the masses.
Recently a blog post by Seth Godin caught my eye. Here it is:
"If you can learn it, it's a skill.
If it's important, but innate, it's a talent.
The thing is, almost everything that matters is a skill. If even one person is able to learn it, if even one person is able to use effort and training to get good at something, it's a skill.
It's entirely possible that some skills are easier for talented people to learn. It's entirely possible you don't want to expend the energy and dedicate the effort to learn that next skill.
But realizing that it's a skill is incredibly empowering and opens the door of possibility.
What are you going to learn next?"
I can see the link between his observation and the world of healing. For more than 150 years Christian Science takes a stand for healing as a normal, natural activity for everyone. Which everyone can learn - with consecration, study, meditation, prayer, practice, experience, love. When it comes to healing, Jesus did think a lot in terms of skills, not talents. He insisted that the art of comfort, of healing, of peacemaking can be learned. He handpicked individuals and taught them for three years all about the kingdom of heaven - the dimension of the real and perfect, the Science of Life. He mentored his students, encouraged them, carried out lots of practice tests and moved them forward in their individual service to God and man.
Mary Baker Eddy shares with us this new insight into the skill of healing:
"In Latin the word rendered disciple signifies student; and the word indicates that the power of healing was not a supernatural gift to those learners, but the result of their cultivated spiritual understanding of the divine Science, which their Master demonstrated by healing the sick and sinning. (...) Those, who are willing to leave their nets or to cast them on the right side for Truth, have the opportunity now, as aforetime, to learn and to practise
Christian healing. The Scriptures contain it. The spiritual import of the Word imparts this power." (Science and Health, p. 271)
So probably the resistance against the observation that healing is a skill rather than a talent might be this: suddenly everybody has access to healing, to compassion, and to a peaceful sense of spiritual justice. Everybody can learn to help, and comfort, and heal. A privilege for the few is flying out of the window, the intermediaries disappear. Everybody suddenly is wonderful, strong, worthy of respect and love - everybody can be a peacemaker, a healer, an agent of change. So it is all about the disposition to learn. The gift is a skill. For everyone. Are you in?
A tender poem by Anna E. Hamilton, quoted in Retrospection and Introspection by Mary Baker Eddy illumines beautifully the art of comforting - and the highest form of comfort is healing. The poem opens the way for comforting as a skill. And we all can acquire this competence - the need is huge.
Ask God to give thee skill
In comfort's art
That thou may'st consecrated be
And set apart
Unto a life of sympathy.
For heavy is the weight of ill
In every heart;
And comforters are needed much
Of Christlike touch.
— Anna E. HAMILTON
The wind blows for thousands of years, can you feel its breeze, hear its singing and see the drift of leaves as they are gently shuffled along? The wind blows for thousands of years also in the Bible - humanity's book of its story with the one Spirit. In Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament) and in Greek (the original language of New Testament) the words for wind are the same as the words for breath and Spirit: pneuma and spiritus. The same fundamental concept. The wind blows, the Spirit moves, breath is life and speech, all comprised originally in one word. Stunning. So much movement, energy, stir, change, life-changing commotion, divine motion of good. From the first book to the last the wind moves and blows and pushes and changes - as "the spirit of God", as "a still small voice", as spiritual intuition to heal and uplift, as a great movement towards peace and unity. Often an impersonal voice, like whispering wind, conveying an angelic message. Wind, breath, Spirit - all linked, manifesting the change Spirit brings to the human experience. We might not see the Cause, but we will its effect. "Everything in the human condition wants continuity, God wants change," writes author and philosopher Ricarda Huch. And it seems that she knows something about the Biblical insights into the nature of Spirit - light-weight, moving, active - and a little mysterious to our wondering thought. Where does the wind come from - where does it start? And how is it that Spirit is the real substance - and not the most volatile and fleeting thing? Can you consider to be spiritual, after all? A child of the wind?
One of my favorite stories ever is the encounter of Nicodemus and Jesus in John's masterpiece gospel. There is something deeply humane and spiritually inspiring here. Nicodemus senses that Jesus is "the real thing" - but he is reluctant to approach Jesus in broad daylight. Jesus tells him that God and man are spiritual, with an analogy. With the help of the wind. John relates this encounter like a faithful journalist, copying word by word:
"There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit." Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?”" (from John 3)
Like Nicodemus we are invited to change perspective. To consider leaving the fixedness of material living behind and acquaint ourselves with the Spirit, to getting to know Spirit and its moves as the one real energy and activity ever. We might come to see that it is the wind which lasts, and its movements of change that remain. That Spirit is more reliable and eternal than everything material thinking ever aspired to be. And that Spirit could never enter matter by cheer magnitude, substance, and unity. The worlds of the wind and the world of matter (or the flesh, in Jesus' term) - they don't cooperate. We go with the wind.
Mary Baker Eddy gives in her definition of Biblical terms in the glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures this spiritual interpretation: "Wind. That which indicates the might of omnipotence and the movements of God's spiritual government, encompassing all things." (p. 597)
The wind blows - don't resist it.
Change needs a base, a starting point. Like a raspberry seed needing soil in order to grow into a beautiful, strong raspberry bush.
Without a base the seed cannot sprout. Change doesn't happen out if itself, it needs the right environment. True change reaches deep. And if it doesn't reach deep, there is no change. Like the seed needing soil, and not just the surface of the soil. It is about immersion.
Jesus, the continuos great Teacher of humanity, spoke about change and spiritual progress with the parables drawing on nature to teach spiritual messages:
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.” (from Mark 4)
The seed and the soil come together, the harvest is ensured with care, cherishing, sunlight and water, in the case of people awareness and commitment. Then nothing can stop its unfoldment, growth, change.
The seed in a spiritual context cannot be anything other than an offspring of good, of spiritual understanding, a larger and higher dimension of thought - and the soil being a receptive heart, an open mind. The power behind growth is certainly in the seed itself, the energy, the blueprint of what is meant to grow - but the soil matters. Without roots in the soil no plants above ground.
The word "multiply" carries me back to the very beginning of the Bible, the spiritual record of creation. Here everything is in perfect order - and has already an inbuilt capacity to multiply. The herbs and the fruitful tree "yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself." Wow, what an insight, what a powerful design, purpose, authority of constant unfoldment of good. What a vision of ever-unfolding ideas, concepts, inbuilt into the ideas themselves.
A spiritual seed has all the power and strength to not only express itself, but grow in abundance and have an effect.
When I need true change, I listen and prepare my soil. The seed cannot be any better, it is divine and pure and real, but the soil needs preparing - there is the need to carry the rocks out of the way, to make sure that the water supply is free-flowing, and that it is exposed to light and free space. The more heaven above the soil the better. I endeavor to move out of my heart any reservation and timidity, I make sure that love can flow freely and purify and strengthen. Humility paves the way to move me mentally into the right place: To honor the Creator, the only Cause and intelligence of it all.
True change needs roots, deep spiritual roots. Or it is just another facet of the silly-old merry-go-round of human opinions, narratives adapted from others without paying attention to our spiritual source. Any true idea - the good seed - sown into good soil - an open mind, goodness lived - will sprout and grow and be fruitful and a blessing. True change means more Love, Truth, Life in your experience. They are the power behind change. The sky is the limit for its growth in your life.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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