This post is from Anna-Lena Hathaway. She is a thinker, activist and blogger. She just graduated from Marist College and is currently based in Berlin. She carries a German and US-American passport. Check out her blog https://frauenderwelt.wordpress.com
I was recently reminded of a greeting that one of my friends and I use. It started once when he asked me, “what’s good with you?” At the time, I didn’t understand the question. I asked him, do you mean to ask “How am I?” He said “No, I want to know what’s good with you?” I thought about the question for a moment and began to tell him the good things in my life. After a while, the question was shortened to “what’s good?” which changed the answer to not only include the good in our own lives, but the good we could see in the world.
I had not talked to this friend for quite sometime, when he messaged me asking “what’s good?” I was so grateful for the timing of his message because I had been so focused on trying to figure out my next steps that I was forgetting about the present. Before responding, I sat down and created a list of things that were good and things I was grateful for, something I could have done sooner, of course. I came up with quite a long list. I am grateful for this greeting my friend and I share because it allows both of us to only focus on the good things, instead of attempting to evaluate how we are doing.
The Bible starts out with good. “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31, New Living Translation). In Genesis, God is so pleased with creation that He/She states that it is very good. Sometimes with our daily activities or the negative news reports, it is easy to forget the good things. But this good is always present and we need to recognize it. This is vital, I can see this now. Trusting that we are always taken care of and recognizing the “good already received”, as Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science&Health with Key to the Scriptures an page 3. „The good already received!“ Wow!
It is not enough to be puzzled or outraged if one is again (and again, and again), confronted with violence, a shocking lack of independent thought, a cold disregard of human lives. What is needed is a clear yes and an equally clear no. Enough! There is an intimacy with God, Love, which displaces a sense of vulnerability and actively lives unselfishness. It is closeness with God, good, which inspires forgiveness without naïvité, it teaches constructive thought and action, and instills gratitude for Christ Jesus who acquainted humanity with the all-encompassing love as a Principle to live by, against all odds. The rules of the games are already changed.
Mary Baker Eddy finishes her biography Retrospection&Introspection with this insight, leaving the last word to a contemporary poet of her time, Anna E. Hamilton. You can find this quote on p. 95 of her book. A French translation can be found here.
"I am persuaded that only by the modesty and distinguishing affection illustrated in Jesus' career, can Christian Scientists aid the establishment of Christ's kingdom on the earth. In the first century of the Christian era Jesus' teachings bore much fruit, and the Father was glorified
therein. In this period and the forthcoming centuries, watered by dews of divine Science, this "tree of life" will blossom into greater freedom, and its leaves will be "for the healing of the nations."
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.
— A. E. HAMILTON"
A few months ago I was asked for my professional advice in the form of an expert opinion. I wrote a detailed report in all fairness, analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal, carrying it further to the next level of action with my full recommendation. A few days later I was taken totally off guard by a flaming e-mail of disappointment and anger directed toward me, accusing me in a blunt way.
This statement was so totally amiss that my emotions started to run wild between disbelief (why?), anger (how could he?), fear (is our working relationship now damaged forever?), and disappointment (I never knew...). This swirl of emotions bubbled, and the first step toward peace of mind was to turn toward the cool, calming presence of divine Love. This turning enabled me to refuse to attach this angry reaction to this individual.
The Word of God would sing the truth, my dear husband remarked, volunteering to join the prayerful support. He encouraged me with this remark to I listen to God, speaking to all of us. I listened, my heartbeat calmed and I was able to write a short, loving reply, expressing my disbelief in what I was reading, offering to talk in person and looking forward to future teamwork on this project and others. I could not have been more surprised when I received an even worse e-mail response, using terms such as “invidious” and “spiteful.”
Now here was a challenge. My heartbeat was up again, and I pushed aside with all spiritual commitment the familiar emotions of anger, resentment, disbelief, and fear, and I took ample time to pray. I vehemently refused to search for a cause or psychological logic for such an outburst. I searched the Bible and found this account of someone asking Jesus a question: “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:16, 17).
Could it be that Jesus detected within the question, “What good thing shall I do?” the misconception that eternal life is the result of moral efforts and of good human behavior – of simply pleasing another human being? I believe that from Jesus’ point of view, eternal life was the natural effect of God being our creator. I prayed to see that there is divine Love before there is love among one another. Peacemaking is God’s job and Love’s prerogative, not mine.
This realization took the responsibility off my shoulders – having seen in the first place that even the best human words didn’t have the power of Love itself. This power felt more than actually heard.
A second insight was equally meaningful: This conflict could be de-escalated by one side already. I had witnessed this type of conflict in the academic world over the years. These conflicts had turned into frictions spanning years, and by refusing to attach the conflict to any individual or setting or circumstance it would be ended before it started. Conflict is a destructive imposition, not a normal part of relationships.
Because of this insight I removed the e-mails from the server. Like wiping clean a blackboard in the analog world. While I continued to pray even while at the gym, I bowed before the Christ, the one and only peacemaker. I took an active stand for the presence of the Christ with me – with this individual with every one. I found upon my return home a new e-mail, this time totally different – reformed, humble, sweet. An apology in all colorful words. He asked for forgiveness, asking me to accept his apology. He said he doesn’t know in the first place what pushed him into the misunderstanding, but he said it was the forgiveness that brought him out of it.
I realized that forgiving is truly "for giving". It is meant to be a gift, not a contract. And we can give this gift, because we have been given so much in the first place.
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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