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.
It is the prerogative of the spiritual view to see that everything from God's perspective is very good. When something in the human experience isn't good, it is not the end of it. It never ever happened that eternal Truth yielded to limited belief. God, Truth, has always the last word, because it was the first and only word in the first place.
In the last weeks I noticed a little word, that I have come to appreciate and love even more than before. It is the word "effort". It has to do with attempting something, with struggle, with humility and following - but also with work, exercise, resolution, and achievement. Effort tells us that work matters, not just inspiration or feeling. In the healing practice of Christian Science every case is healed. Often healings are quick and permanent. But sometimes a case is tenacious, the healing takes longer, and then effort kicks in. Especially when the mental muscle to carry on seems to have disappeared. It is all about thinking.
In the healing practice this effort is not something you do; it is something you don't do, and that is: Give up.
When recently a friend shared with my husband and me insights into the nature of the cross and the crown, as beautifully displayed on the textbook cover of Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy, the interpretation of the cross as symbolizing "a spiritual effort" stood out to me. And when this week's Bible lesson, which Christian Scientists study diligently, included the term "effort", I felt I had found a gold mine. What is effort? What distinguishes effort from human will? How is effort linked to "effortless being"? I know that healing is not a human accomplishment but a divine gift. But then: How are the cross and the crown linked?
In his second letter, Peter writes:
"In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises." (2 Pet. 1: 5. NLT)
To make an effort is all about honesty, about the desire to put the ego out of business, about the willingness to learn. Effort needs understanding, f.e. that homework is for you, not for the teacher (that is why cheating doesn't really help). Effort needs love. Effort is different from human will - it is trying, really trying, and resisting the temptation to giving up too early. Honest spiritual effort is the opposite of skepticism, hopelessness, negativity, and cynicism. It is moving forward and willing to let go of past views and learn something new about the goodness of God. It is also not pushing failure into God's camp. The basis of a true effort is a deep and unflinching love for God and man - and a resilience to let this love shape every aspect of our experience. Buddha is reported of giving this advice to the spiritual seeker: "There are only two mistakes one can make along the road of truth; not going all the way, and not starting."
Many Christian Scientists will tell you, that the healing of a tenacious physical problem, a torn relationship, a disastrous financial situation, messy circumstances at work or at school came shortly after they felt they had reached the end of the rope. But willing to go, with Buddha's words, all the way. I remember finding a location late a night, alone in unfamiliar territory in a different country, precisely the moment when I felt I was totally lost. Often the healing comes when we continue to to cherish gratitude, humility, and good just one minute longer, not giving up. Meekness steps aside, expecting to see Love, and only Love at work, and the spiritual laws of Truth and Life carry the day.
We are not alone - there is a mighty power supporting each one of us. There is hope and a sure reward to goodness. Here are two pieces of advice by Mary Baker Eddy - out of many in her published writings:
"Success in life depends upon persistent effort, upon
the improvement of moments more than upon any other
one thing." (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 230)
"Let us rid ourselves of the belief that man is separated
from God, and obey only the divine Principle, Life and
Love." (Science and Health, p. 91)
The illustrations to this blog are from the famous Rutland Psalter, a sumptuously illumined manuscript produced ca. 1260. They remind me in the unique and for me very moving medieval way that spiritual life is about effort - and about joy at the same time. Because we know how it all ends.
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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