To love our neighbor as ourselves takes a million forms, gazillion forms actually. One simple one, often overlooked because it is so simple, became clear to me this week. To love our neighbor as ourselves means to search for good in our neighbor. Really search and see. Mary Baker Eddy writes that "blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good." (p. 518)
The realm to which I immediately could apply this enlarged dimension of love as search is the realm of work. We often work with others, we work in teams or schools or communities or churches together. We also encounter the work of others in the workplace, in schools and universities, in companies and agencies. We also encounter the work of others in our daily life which is shaped by people and contractors in the building world, our email providers, phone companies, electric companies. There are farmers who produce the food we eat, people who are selling us something we want to buy, providing services we need. In our neighborhood people live who work, every day. In my neighborhood I encounter daily vivid businesses, from restaurants to handmade soaps to photography. I live about a photographer's studio, down the street are many small shops and businesses, all local, all honest and good. All work, work, work.
So when it comes to a connection - I can enjoy to take a special interest in the others' work and place it above my own. And check off "Love your neighbor as yourself" immediately. Done! We must do this for peace and mutual understanding. That is how the kingdom of heaven - the dimension of Love - is built. And it is built locally.
Paul writes: "Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people's point of view." (Phil. 2:3, Philips)
There is never a reason to be harsh to anyone, even if our own need seems pressing or urgent. There is no excuse ever for putting our own needs ahead of the needs of others. I am learning this every day. We can see things from other people's point of view, and a great way to start is the honest interest in the other's work. Is there a team project going on? Can you start by looking at the others' contributions first before presenting your own? Is a business transaction under way? Or a school project you prepare with others? Or a normal walk down your street in which you notice something? Can you enlarge your world by shrinking your sense of yourself and let others' grow a little bit more - by really being interested in what they do and why they do it? Take a peek over the shoulder of another person and find out what he or she is doing as we speak. Be he/she your colleague or neighbor, an accountant, journalist, clerk, plumber, agent, architect, swimmer, farmer, practitioner, teacher, artist, cook or student. Just an honest interest. Pure and simple.
The warmth of Love, dear divine Love, is breezing around you as you do this. Because this is the way Love recognizes you - now you are a factor in Love's project of healing and peace for all mankind. You've entered the stage.
Our oneness with a divine consciousness is the key to being a factor for good - in our surrounding, our world. I have been giving a lot of attention lately to this counsel by Mary Baker Eddy:
"You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with
your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you
will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions
in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific
Principle. A dewdrop reflects the sun." (Pulpit&Press, p. 4)
This is not difficult when we put the needs of others ahead of the needs of our own and strive to get to know intimately the fruits of Spirit, Paul talks about. I am including them through an artwork which you can see below. To know about the one Life, the one Love, the one Truth which binds us all together shows the fruit of the Spirit to be part of the consciousness of oneness. Kindness and patience are not merely a question of human behaviour - they are expressions of God.
In line with my yearning to daily demonstrate "a positive sense of unity" with my divine source I observe a wonderful flow of daily affairs, and I would like to share one moment - this moment standing for similar ones. I had ordered for our son and myself two small Italian storage containers, and without any particular information they were sent to a post office in a very busy street without a parking spot. I parked my car in second row, as everyone there has to do, and went inside. The hall was packed with people. When it was my turn an employee returned asking me whether I was prepared for what was coming. No, I wasn't. The actually quite small pieces of furniture were packed in one huge box with extra heavy stuffing, the box being about 6.5 feet long and really, well, heavy. He pushed the box with a lot of effort towards me and helped the next customer. At this moment I had only one question in my mind - "Not if, but how". I was curious to learn how God would solve this riddle, not if. Really curious. I know that God is the source of infinite intelligence and I trust that without reservation. I turned around and saw a man at the side with a trolley and looked at him. He came over and asked whether he could volunteer and bring the box to my car. He and I together tried to stuff the box into my tiny antique car, and he didn't stop his efforts until it was done. I thanked him very much and he mentioned that he saw I needed help and wanted to help in the most kind way. At home I parked the car in my parking place (a real luxury in a city) and I cut open the box in order to get out the individual pieces one by one, which worked perfectly well. This complete incident took place in about 20 minutes and I still see myself standing in my parking lot and smiling.
Kindness is a quality of God. This man expressed God's goodness in the most unselfish way. And I knew that I was cared for because of my trust in God, not necessarily my trust in man. Trusting people is the effect not the cause. Kindness doesn't belong to anyone, it is not really a social skill - it is the expression of God. The fruit of the Spirit grows at the beautiful tree of Spirit. And we stand under this wonderful tree of Spirit, harvesting what we need. Whereever individuals preserve "a scientific, positive sense of oneness" in whatever modest or specific way, they will express kindness but also experience it. Not because of reciprocity - that is the point - but because of the oneness of being, because of service to a higher aim. Moving in the realm of kindness enables one to see kindness and to reveal kindness everywhere. Because kindness is where God is.
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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