It is no small matter to stay the course of unselfish living, to have effortless access to the soothing impact of divine Love, to find the stillness for the next step, to experience genuine healing.
Mary Baker Eddy has words of assurance for us:
"That tomorrow starts from today and is one day beyond it, robes the future with hope's rainbow hues. In the battle of life, good is made more industrious and persistent because of the supposed activity of evil. The elbowing of the crowd plants our feet more firmly. In the mental collisions of mortals and the strain of intellectual wrestlings, moral tension is tested, and if it yields not, grows stronger. (...) There is no excellence without labor; and the time to work, is now."
(Miscellaneous Writings, p. 339/340)
Christianity as Jesus introduced it, wasn't called Christianity originally. It was called The Way, I learned. I get from this: It is a practice, not an object of admiration. Jesus himself talks about life as a way:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it."
If you have no Bible background and are unfamiliar with this quote and can't make sense of "everlasting", think "continuous", and if "life" is too abstract, think "being". So living in sync with continuous being is living the good life - the real life, the only existence that truly is. It is here.
But, Jesus says, beware of the danger zone, the "wide gate", opening to a destructive path. The good life is to found only behind the narrow gate. Why is it narrow? How many ways are there to go wrong, how many chances to give in to "the elbowing of the crowd" (Mary Baker Eddy) and elbow back? Millions, of course. Because there is only one way to do it right. So what makes the gate narrow is, I find, its precision. We have to hit the mark. The "narrow gate" is a hand-forged master piece, because there are many wrongs, but only one right. The divine way.
Narrow is in its original meaning also another word for tailored - it is really fitting and clear, not restricting. It is narrow, because it is made FOR YOU. It feels right like a custom-made dress. Who are you truly, what defines your being? What is true individuality? The answer is specific and it is glorious. It is unlike the path of anybody else.
Difficult to find this gate and to travel this path behind it? Yes, says the couch potato, the poor little me, that can only understand a limited life-span. In order to find it, to daily and walk in it, I have pinpointed those small thoughts that lead me right into the danger zone in which it is impossible to life the real life. We can detect those thoughts quickly and know: "I am not going there. My thinking is private, it is the reflection of Goodness and intelligence, of generosity and humility. I will not let one of my thoughts be used to jeopardize the divine plan of justice, health, and peace for all." You will notice quickly that the danger zone is no fun, although it feels justified to stay there. The danger zone is really dangerous, not at all like Kenny Loggins' energetic "Highway to the danger zone, gonna take you right into the danger zone". The danger zone is hazardous, it erodes strength, takes away meaning, and makes healing impossible.
So now it is time: The curtain rises. Drum roll! Its time to present to you:
"The infamous d-a-n-g-e-r z-o-n-e."
Look around, behold its ugliness, its unnatural allure, see its bottom covered with sludge, beware of the tar on the side, look at the dust covering the walls, ash and cinder everywhere --- and hear what the voices hidden in its obscure recesses are whispering:
Quickly jump out of the danger zone, take a deep breath, take a bath in the sunshine of goodness - and make a healthy plan: Own your life and take responsibility. Get to know Good. Find the narrow gate and walk right through it up the good path. Note how it becomes wider at every step. You have avoided the danger zone, the ego cascade, thoughts recurring to your needs 24/7, the "me first" nightmare, the story of desperation. Discipline and love will keep you on the right track and will make your life complete, less lonely, boring, or stressful. It will teach you how to live the good life, the abundant life. Good, God, enables you to do your mental homework every single day and work within God's master plan for all.
Write something on your personal banner as you march on. Perhaps a poem? A spiritual idea? A Bible verse? A wise counsel? Or this hymn. It will boost your confidence, encourage you to stay alert - and keep you safe and sound out of the danger zone, complying with a divine standard. It is fixing you right in the middle of Love's comfort zone:
"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."
(Poem by Elizabeth Charles, Hymnal #360)
One healing way to deal with an email by a disappointed colleague, a note by an offended church friend or an unjust lamentation by a family member - or any other expression of frustration - is a simple phrase, I find. This simple phrase can open the door to reconciliation, take the flames out of a heated debate and help the individual to leave the scene without losing his or her face. This phrase is: "This doesn't sound like you."
What an open mental space you create. I heard this phrase some years ago and have never forgotten it. It is a possibility for transformation for everyone involved. This little phrase helps everybody involved to defend his/her good nature, the innate qualities and the purity of being.
In the book "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the character Aljosha represents something, which my wonderful husband Klaus chose as a model early in his teens. Whenever an insult was directed towards Aljosha, he wouldn't notice the intention to harm, unable to see others in a negative way. Aljosha, the saint, didn't see evil in anyone, anytime.
One step towards the Aljosha way is the practical step to pretend that you didn't notice it, an elegant way of self-restraint and discipline which keeps the standard of cooperation in any team. Backing up this step is prayerful listening and the willingness to be part of the solution as a peacemaker. And soon enough the heart joins in and is willing to yield to divine Love's quiet nudge.
The spiritual basis for this constructive and healing behavior in teams, families, departments, and church communities is the understanding that there is only one Mind. And a commitment to putting this understanding into action. There is a reason for siding with the good in everybody, always. This reason is the purity and innocence of man as God's image and likeness. The article "Illustrating the ethics of divine Love" by Barbara Vining illustrates this is in a great way. It is one of the articles I cherish very much. I highly recommend it. Take a look and see whether it serves as the same gold mine for you as for me.
"This doesn't sound like you." In order to become really good at being a peacemaker we might endeavor to listen to the good "sound" of everyone. Because saying or writing "this doesn't sound like you" means also, that everyone has a wonderful original "sound". Like we do too.
All this is century-old wisdom - wisdom of the ages. Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonians about living the good life by commitment to divine Life. By striving to follow the example of Jesus Christ. In the Message, a fabulous poetic rendering of the New Testament, part of Paul's counsel sound like this:
"Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out." (I. Thessalonians 5: 15)
So whatever happens, there is a way to defend the dignity and innocence of others - and ourselves - by actively siding with divine Love's perspective of man. Sometimes this results in the simple phrase: "This doesn't sound like you." And in the best of worlds this phrase comes quickly to mind when a judgmental thought is knocking at our mental door for acceptance. And we hear ourselves say: "This doesn't sound like me."
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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