Beyond the black
A guest post by Alan Scott Pate
While at Principia College during my freshman year I had contracted a skin disorder that became increasing aggravated while working as a wrangler at a large Christian Science summer camp, the A/U Ranches , that summer. I could do my job, but I was in hell, particularly at night.
The Christian Science practitioner on duty there was working with me and one day she brought out a white sheet of paper and with her pencil made a small dot in the middle. She asked me what I saw. I said, "a dot." She asked: "do you not see this pristine white sheet of paper surrounding it?" What she brought home was the fact that we can frequently telescope in so narrowly on a problem to the point where all we see is the dot, missing the magnitudes of good which surround us always. The small dot can become a virtual tunnel through which we fall, so intent is our focus on this seeming blemish on our perfection. Shortly thereafter the claim simply vanished with no healing time for the scars that had developed.
As life goes on, sometimes those dots seem to compound, and a small dot becomes a shaded circle, or an even large dark ball of graphite. But the principle still holds, that no matter how "large" the seeming problem may be to us, we are still surrounded by infinite good.
In my personal life, these last six months have been like an enormous circle of black plunked down on my white piece of paper. Family health issues, financial problems, relationship crises all compounded to where all I could see was the big black dot. I was falling down the tunnel.
Fortunately, I was able to break from the mesmerism of staring at the dot, and its very blackness actually drove me deeper into my study of the Bible and Science & Health, giving me a greater measure of that "hunger and thirst after righteousness" that Mrs. Eddy speaks of. Gradually I was able to see that the issues I was facing were a clear call for me to rise higher. It was calling me down new paths, both spiritual and human--calling for a decided change of direction in my life. The fruits and the results of this call and change are just now beginning to make themselves apparent.
Recently I came across this quote from Doris Henty: "Your Christliness--your beauty, loveliness, strength, vigor and fullness--is illustrated by harmonious human circumstances and happy relationships. These, however, merely illustrate; they are not contributory to your divine completeness."
This quote helps me to see that while we can expect good/demand good as part of our experience, getting good is not necessarily gaining spiritual altitude. And its definitely not the goal. And a seeming lack of good in any particular area does not touch our fundamental and impregnable Christliness. But can "make an angel entertained unawares."
As I look back on these last six months, on one level I can check many boxes of problems. I can draw a very large, very black circle. But now, as I move into a more spiritual mode of perception, I also see these past six months as tremendously propulsive, moving me faster and higher than I would ever have if left to my merely material good.
Alan Scott Pate, a Harvard graduate in Korean history and language and an art historian specialized in Asian arts. He is one of the world’s leading experts in Japanese antique dolls with his own gallery . He is also a life-long Christian Scientist. You might enjoy getting to know his work:
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.