You receive an unexpected, wonderful gift, thoughtfully wrapped. Or a fabulous bouquet of flowers. A friend, a colleague, a family member is presenting it with gratitude and joy. The accompanying card expresses thankfulness for what you are and what you do. How do you respond?
"For me? Really?" or "You needn't have bothered!" or "You shouldn't spend your money and time on me, honey." or "I really don't deserve it".
Look again at these responses: You will have voiced them yourself or have noticed them from others. Do you see a pattern? It is all about "me", not one word about the gift, not one word about the giver. I wonder how a false sense of modesty, how shyness or a twisted concept of good education can cover for long this quite upfront self-centeredness.
Take the offer of our dignity and worth, our spiritual, safe, progressive being as a gift from God to you. How do you respond? After all, it is a priceless offer to have harmony and peace expressed in your human experience, to have physical and mental obstacles overcome, relationships released, supply demonstrated. Do you accept this divine gift with grace? Spiritual texts often describe the offer of a life in God and from God as a gift. Such as these words from a dear hymn #45:
"For this Thy gift unspeakable,
The beauty of Love's holiness,
We lift our hearts in grateful song
And would be always praising Thee."
I received a few months ago a brief e-mail from a patient describing a challenging skin condition. He was embarrassed by this visible handicap. The common treatment for this inherited condition involved high doses of a certain medication, which he was afraid to use. His question was: Should I have medical treatment or should I rely on Christian Science?
With gratitude for this open door to healing I wrote back that I couldn't counsel him, but that I would like to suggest this: Healing is not an achievement, the result of an effort in a certain direction, but a natural gift from God. The question then, I proposed, should be rephrased: Are you willing to accept the gift of healing?
Taking up the analogy of the gift he wrote back that he wanted to open the gift but didn't know where to find the end of the ribbon. In my second response I underlined that it wasn't so much the question of where to start taking the gift apart but what to expect from the gift itself. As with all kinds of gifts, expectation speeds the unwrapping and in the long run it doesn't matter where you start pulling the ribbon or how you open the gift.
The green light for spiritual healing went on. I opened my thought to listen quietly to a healing idea. It came to me in the form of a quote from that week's Bible Lesson: "In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, — self-will, self-justification, and self-love, — which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death." [Science and Health, p. 242]
I rejoiced in the universal power of Love, embracing the universe, washing away and dissolving by its very nature anything unlike good. A week later I received the note that the very same afternoon the symptoms were suddenly completely gone. A stunning healing to him, an open door for much more to come.
So how do you accept a gift from now on? With grace and joy. And with the only honorable response which honors the giver and gift equally:
"Thank you very much!"
"Nothing matters more than what I want being achieved today." This is what we think often. Our work, tasks to process, harvest to gather, a paper to write, a healing to experience, a difficult relationship to mend, safety and comfort to be found in unfamiliar territory.
But there are exceptions, there is something that matters more than the result you seek. This is what I learned today from a teaching by Jesus. Here it is: "...if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and while there you remember that your brother has something [such as a grievance or legitimate complaint] against you, leave your offering there at the altar and go. First make peace with your brother, and then come and present your offering." (Matthew 5: 23,24. AMP)
I can see that the offering to be laid on the altar is something like the achievement or result that I seek. And Jesus, I think, is telling us, that this is not as important as the way we do it.
"Nothing matters more than what I want being achieved today" - has exceptions. Like: Kindness, the willingness to grow, community, how I drive to my next appointment, trust, real quality of the work, honest self-esteem, loving ourselves exactly in the same way and the same manner as we do our fellow sister and brother. Does the honesty of service lead to better and more diligent and peaceful work? Do kindness and peacemaking pave the way to healing?
While we think about "our day" it is actually "God's day" - a day belonging to continuous Life and unconditional Love. It seems that everything matters more than the result on the altar. Kindness. And the offering will bloom and glow as a bouquet of tulips, effortlessly.
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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