"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." These words are not potent in and of itself, but because they stem from experience and demonstration - the life of Nelson Mandela, who would have turned hundred July 18, 2018.
One of the puzzle pieces that kept Nelson Mandela alive and hopeful in prison was The Christian Science Monitor. This newspaper, founded in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, founded on an idea, is one of humanity's miracles of unselfishness and care. Its honest mission is to "injure no man but to bless all mankind". It breathes and stands on this idea.
In 1990, quickly after being released from 27 years of prison in South Africa, Nelson Mandela, on a visit to Boston, went to see the Church that published The Christian Science Monitor. He met one of the Readers of the Church and the Editor at that time, Richard Cattani. And this meeting was a humble and special one, unannounced --- as I heard from a friend of Cattani's who had noticed Mandela standing in front of the Publishing Building on One Norway Street in Boston's Back Bay and looking up and wondering how to get in and thank the editors for their work. A journalist working away at his desk suddenly exclaimed: "I think there is Nelson Mandela standing outside!" Read more about the Christian Science Monitor and this visit here.
July 18 also, unnoticed by many, the most recent peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea was put into practice with a flight linking the two countries which had been engaged in a brutal border war for the past twenty years. Abiy Ahmed, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, is behind this stunning development of reconciliation and peace, a Prime Minister who underlines the need "for a country to be built on ideas, not on division under guise of 'nations and nationalities'." Ideas!
So on board of this first commercial flight linking the two formerly war torn countries, the 315 passengers were reminded of the historic moment. On the flight families separated from loved ones sat next to dignitaries - the war is ended, the future is an open book.
Mary Baker Eddy states the most powerful idea of all:
"One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfills the Scripture, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself;' annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,—whatever is wrong in social, civil, political, and religious codes..." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 340)
A wonderful visual of the family of man is in this video. Matt is dancing with humanity, you see him dancing in several African countries, too, and, very special, on Robben Island, the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned 18 of his 27 years, the island which was reached by The Christian Science Monitor, delivering its message of the unconditional meaning and promise of man, based on an idea. The idea of "One infinite God, good...". Robben Island.
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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