We can use words to describe what Good, God, means to us. We can speak about it and write about it. Yes, that is possible and valid. But what really I makes me so grateful and happy is a feeling. That there is a God, Good, filling all space, being all power, knowing everything there is to know. A God that is on our side, a benign, most intense Love that is quietly present around us, in everyone, in us - being us (now here is a thought!). We are one with this Love. How does this feel?
Recently I was invited to present Christian Science in a large Association facilitating and encouraging multicultural and multireligious progress. This organisation is around for several decades, and part of it is the "Studio of Religions and Worldviews", facilitating the dialogue between representatives of religions on a biographical basis, hosting a public conference for teachers in schools every year and showing forth the enriching and peacebuilding effect of communication between religions and civic society. The members come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from Buddhism, Christianity - several denominations including the Bulgarian Orthodoxy, Protestantism -, Jewish denominations, Ba'hai, Hinduism, old religions, humanism. Every year has a distinct topic. This year it is: "Revenge, Forgiveness, Reconciliation".
I had prepared well - in my briefcase was a Bible with all the markers, a copy of the current Christian Science Bible lesson, a book about a Holocaust survivor in which a chapter is dedicated to a Christian Scientist. I also had with me a box with cards which I have at hand in my practice, on my desk, always. The definition of "Good" from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (p.587): "Good.God; Spirit; omnipotence; omniscience; omnipresence; omni-action." And of course my copy of the textbook of Christian Science itself. And then examples of forgiveness in action. I had planned to speak about the oneness of theory and practice, study and action in Christian Science, about Christian Science as a Science of Being and the textbook of Christian Science as a Bible commentary written for humanity, written for everyone no matter the background. I also had planned to represent the healing practice of Christian Science based on the allness and onliness of Good and man as the idea or concept or expression of the one and only Good. And to present the practice as a, well, practical way to stand by everyone seeking inner peace, healing, a perspective out of a mental prison, solutions, a new view of God and a new view of health. After all the practice was founded as a profession by Mary Baker Eddy much earlier than other professions who today are linked to support and care, an individual relationship one on one.
When I was motioned to start, I felt impelled to change my concept and start with a feeling. We can speak about God, yes, we can speak about our lives, our motives and aims, our loves and likes --- but as many words we might find, at the bottom is a feeling. We can also speak about understanding, but Biblical wisdom knows already that understanding is linked to the heart, the traditional seat of feelings in many cultures. Understanding, if you really go to the bottom of it, means to be. And nothing is more honest and revealing true being, in whatever way, as a feeling. There are divine affections and feelings - and prayer reveals these fresh feelings as ours to start with.
As I spoke about God as Love being more a feeling for me than words, I could see in the eyes of my listeners and team members of the Studio of Religions that everyone knew what I was talking about. When the clamor of the ego is quieted we discover the invitation of a feeling. Something like this, from a Christian Science hymn:
"I look to Thee in every need, And never look in vain; I feel Thy touch, eternal Love, And all is well again." (Hymn 134:1)
The question what God feels like instead of what God is like, opened our hearts and thoughts to the most meaningful sharing in all honesty and joy. When I spoke about the conviction of Christian Scientists, that loving our neighbor as ourselves means in essence, that this is so because our neighbor is like us, and when I unfolded to the group as well as to myself the glorious fact that there is only one consciousness and one source of all being, and that the only way to really demonstrate this would be to forgive under all circumstances, we were in one place at the same time. Forgiveness is not a contract, it is a gift, the expression of divine Love in the form of love, trust, and the willingness not to count transgressions of others. We spoke about forgiving 70 times seven, as Christ Jesus taught, and about the constancy of divine Love. God is a feel thing - everything is too superficial. We can turn from resentment and "the hard feelings" we struggle with to find Love, not as a theory, but as a feeling - a real thing.
Later when I contemplated this most insightful evening I could see how Christian Science always brings people together, always. I also saw more clearly that we all can feel and accept divine Love, because in the true consciousness of man, as God's image and likeness, is nothing but love present. We will feel what Love feels. By standing porter at the door of thought we can spiritually control our thought and ensure that our consciousness is ours, and ours alone. We truly exist in a state of authority over our feelings because we have been granted dominion by God, Good. The only place we are exercising this dominion is consciousness, and nothing can prevent our utilization of it. Nothing can block the experience of harmony and balance, benevolence and forgiveness in our hearts, which are the accompanying feelings and effects from a consciousness under the control of divine Love, and not a human ego.
Mary Baker Eddy writes: "God has endowed man with inalienable rights, among which are self-government, reason, and conscience." (S+H, p. 106). And this quote which I mentioned during my presentation has more to do with feeling than with the brain. After all, spiritual sense, which links us to Spirit, is not an activity of the brain, but belongs to the whole man - the man of God's creating. It is a sense for good, an experience of good. Spiritual living is a feel thing - and we all can feel it.
All the purists stop reading now. For all the others enjoy the wonderful lightheartedness of Justin Timberlake's 2016 mega hit with its glorious richness, colorful oomph and mix of work and dance and song. There is "a time to dance" (Eccl. 3:4), and whether your feet dance or your heart feels the goodness of life, or at least that something is good - both great. Where there is Life, there is joy, a heart beating in synchronicity with Soul --- all good. After all, it is a feel thing. The real thing.
In my practice I encounter the need for change, for progress, for renewal - mostly of myself, but also of others. It may sound like "I need more colors in my life, every day the same, all monochromatic" (that is one single base hue only). This morning cycling through a huge gorgeous park to a reading room of a library, I drove through lawn sprinklers of gigantic proportions, producing the most glorious rainbows under gigantic beech trees. And seeing a rainbow is always very special, don't you agree?
This year I will spend part of my summer time at Arc-en-Ciel in Switzerland, a Christian Science summer camp in its 50th year now. This camp offers a mix of togetherness, fun, development (from Bible exploration to sustainability, art, and more), most of all spiritual refreshment and empowerment. I was asked to be the Christian Science Practitioner on site. The organizing team is fantastic and we are ready to roll.
The theme of this year's camp is from Paul: "...walk as children of light!" (Ephesians 5:8). It is a wonderful motto and you might already have an idea what that could mean in your own life. Certainly Paul knew what he was writing about but evidently also perceiving the need to give more specific ideas to live by in order to heal the question mark on his readers' foreheads. So he sent the light of his spiritual teaching through a prism, dispersing the beam of light. A prism separates the long wavelengths from the shorter wavelengths and makes light visible, in a way - that's how we see colors. Paul gatheres nine qualities of light, from the other side of the prism, and these nine qualities, you might say, are the essence of a spiritual life, a life as "a child of light". They show the concrete uplift, relevance, and richness of spirituality in action. To walk as a child of light means that to be alive, productive, and truly content. It means making a difference in material concept of world - much as light does in darkness. Here are the nine qualities Paul mentions, in the translation of J.B. Phillips (Galatians 5: 22,23), writing from experience:
"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, tolerance and self-control."
In the Message these same qualities are related this way:
"But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."
Arc-en-Ciel means "rainbow" in French, and along with the campers we all are made for a colorful life, a rich life, an abundant life, in every land, in every culture. Spiritual living is light, no darkness at all - the total absence of light - which enables us to stop the repetition of the same story over and over again. There is a startling openness and surprising immediacy of the Spiritual. As the properties of visible light are intensity, direction, frequency or spectrum, so is it with our experience. The qualities Paul invites us to live present an infinite array of possibilities, opportunities of healing practice: kindness, generosity, and self-control can be explored, intensified, be given a direction, can be more frequent and display a larger spectrum.
There is no obligation to stare into the dark of materialism, every day. It is not our duty to live pressured lives in a hamster wheel or to bear the boredom of days without purpose. We can stop agreeing with the shadow of an existence and lift our thought towards spiritual living - which Jesus showed to be the only existence there is. We can turn thought to the elegant, beautiful order of the universe under the control of divine Principle. We can acknowledge that divine Love is present, embracing us with tender care and comfort and filling our days with --- light! And we respond by opening our eyes and acknowledging the warmth all around. All the good you are experiencing today is divine. All those lovely qualities of light are divine to start with and belong to Soul, God. They are not human accomplishments - they show forth in beauteous ways what light is: The essence of Life.
I picked one quality in particular to give my own "walk as a child of light" direction and to explore the spectrum of this quality in a more specific way. I intend to see the results very soon. I am looking up the word, write up a small concept and I am defining aspects of my thinking and living which will benefit from this discipline - to let my light shine more brightly and more consistently than before. Do you have one, too?
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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