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?
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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