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?
Most often, the beginning and the ending tell you a lot about the scope and intent of everything in between. This is true for literature, art, and music, it is true for projects, endeavors, your days. The first words - or actions - set the tone whereas the last words - or actions - shape the memory and outline the legacy and impact.
When studying in depth the gospel of John, I took note of the first and the last words, Christ Jesus is speaking. I was being aware of the opening lines as the first moments in his public ministry, his appearance on the scene of the human condition and his last words.
The very first words we hear from Jesus are "Come and see". (John 1: 39). It is a reply to two men how have heard from John the Baptist that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised Savior of the world. And what a Savior! I find it humbling that the first words are a response, not the initiative. Jesus, I am reading in these last words, was foremost an outstanding listener, and the beginning of this gospel hints at this important quality. It is meeting a need - and even the need to understand where he is staying - right from the outset.
The entire gospel of John is unlike the other - its focus is a look into the soul and heart of the Christ. Compared to the other gospels, only a few healings are reported, all in all seven reports of what the Bible calls miracles - including turning water into wine - but they are reported in so much detail, explanation and depth that one learns so much about the Christ, God's communication of power and love with humanity. The gospel of John gives for each opposing narrative to the true status of man as God's dignified and valued man an example, in such a way, that we find ourselves in these reports and move forward. I wonder whether "come and see" echoes Jesus' first hand knowledge of the Psalms telling us to "Come and see the works of God." (Psalms 66: 5)
What a simple invitation to simply get moving and see for ourselves, too. "Come and see" has morphed into something like a daily reminder to not stay where I seem to be at a certain point but to move and see for myself, that is to experience for myself, where the Christ is - this power of God active in our life and experience, ready to stand by us, with us, for us.
When you read through the gospel of John and finally reach the final chapter to catch Jesus' last words, you will find them equally to the point. They are a call, an assignment, and an invitation at the same time. The words are "follow thou me." (John 21: 22) I am hearing the echo of the famous 23rd Psalm here: "Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalm 23: 6) We follow the lead of goodness, fairness, peace and we are being followed by goodness and mercy every day. "Follow thou me."
Someone said that Jesus spent his entire life making people happy. We all can certainly know how special a day of "come and see" feels and plays out in our experience. A day of expressing Christlike qualities, of "coming and seeing" for ourselves and caring deeply about humanity's needs, so much so, that our own needs pale in comparison and are being met abundantly by divine Love itself. Love applauds unselfishness without exception. So between "come and see" and "follow thou me" is enough space for a whole life to unfold, and this life is here today - with a safe, beautiful frame to embrace infinite good.
Here is a report about the practical application of the healing laws this blog post is speaking about.
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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