It is foundational for all of us to see the whole picture - the grander view. We are made for a reason and we are made whole, safe, and free. Life, pure good, is so very noble and generous and takes care of an infinite universe with full commitment and dedication. The result is the noble nature of man and the universe, so beautiful and kind. Spiritual sense sees this whole picture, the grander view --- as always knowledge is the solution to any challenge we have to meet. Knowledge enables us to rise. True knowledge is spiritual, it is fact-based, solid, realistic and testable. Because we base our lives - unknowingly or with intent - on what we know, truly know. And we can only work with what we truly know, and with that we can work.
In an interview with Maya Angelou she transforms the question "What do you trust?" to "What do I know?" Here is the excerpt.
"David Holmstrom: After so many different experiences in your life - early poverty, living in Europe and Africa, awards for writing, international recognition - what do you trust?
Maya Angelou: (after a long pause) I have to translate that into the question ``What do I know?'' I can only trust what I know, and the only thing I trust is the love of God. That is all, and even though my knowledge and understanding of that sometimes wavers, that is the rock in my life.
I believe I can do three things: I can cook. I can write. And I can drive. Given an assignment in any of those three areas, I believe I will carry out the assignment with grace and maybe even some flashes of brilliance. I trust myself in the kitchen, in a car, and with the yellow pad. But the big trust is that I am a child of God. That is the most amazing thing to me and [it] still brings me tears of joy." (Interview with David Holmstrom. The Voice of a Writer in Process. The Christian Science Monitor. October 1993)
Now is the time to check what we know, really know. And as there is no complete knowledge without taking into account the spirituality of God and man, we should ask ourselves, what we spiritually know, really know. It is a truism that whatever we inhale we exhale. In proportion as we welcome Love and its spiritualizing power into our consciousness and experience it is felt in the mental atmosphere we exhale. An atmosphere of generosity and magnamity. Like Maya Angelou and other individuals you may encounter. Like the one you are being yourself.
My husband shared often within his work a list of observations, which I am now sharing with you. They are from the article "The need of spiritual consciousness" by George Channing in the Christian Science Journal, and it can be found on JSH-Online easily.
He who spiritually knows he is triumphant
sees only the evidence of triumph.
He who spiritually knows he is whole (healthful)
sees only the evidence of health.
He who spiritually knows he is righteous
sees only the evidence of righteousness.
He who spiritually knows he is wise
sees only the evidence of wisdom.
He who spiritually knows he is loving and beloved
sees only the evidence of love.
He who spiritually knows he is harmonious
sees only the evidence of harmony.
He who spiritually knows he is free
sees only the evidence of freedom.
He who spiritually knows he is alive
sees only the evidence of life.
He who spiritually knows he is useful
sees only the evidence of usefulness.
He who spiritually knows he knows
sees only the evidence of knowledge.
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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