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?
My husband and I could demonstrate in a humble way what difference it makes when human thought is brought under the gravitational pull of divine Love and its order of events, the basic law of the powerhouse of Love. We were in search for the right buyers of our condominium and for a new condominium at about the same time, and at the proposal of a Christian Science practitioner we looked at the concept of home in the Bible. We were encouraged to pray with the story of the woman of Shunem. In this story as related in the fourth chapter of 2 Kings, a spiritually minded woman prepares a place for a prophet, for Elisha, who occasionally comes through her village. She tells her husband: “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.”
(2. Kings 4) This story is about divine perception and about spiritual attraction at the same time.
This lamp my husband and I understood for our situation to be the expectancy of Love as expressed in gratitude, spiritual sense, willingness to follow. Light in "the window" of thought - our task! There is something wonderfully meek and gentle about putting out a mental light – while at the same time looking out for a light which will draw us home. The acknowledgment and perception of spiritual truth enable us to see the specifics of good for our experience, but also enable us to become visible to good in a specific way. Spiritual understanding is this light on the candlestick. I actively included in my prayer everyone without a home, refugees, poor and lost people on the go, addressing homelessness as a terrible imposition on humanity which Love’s embrace rectifies.
In Isaiah (chapter 60) we read: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee.”
What we perceived was the double action of the powerhouse of Love: There is the light marking home and there is the capacity and guidance to perceive this light. Spiritual sense is the effect of Spirit on us, the effect of the will of Love to be felt and known – it marks the attraction of Love and makes Love visible. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come.” Our house found a family after our commitment to Love’s design became honest and sincere, but I remember one moment when being shaken with the prospect of selling our home, leaving our beloved family home behind. It was again a comment by my husband which broke through my sadness. “We are never selling or leaving home, dear; we are just selling a house.” In order to sort through step two of our experience, finding a new home for ourselves, we had gone for a few days to the seaside to pray and listen and sort this out.
The finding happened a few hours later, when my husband closed his Bible with vigor and declared an end to searching as opposed to finding. A phone call from a realtor reached us. We went directly to this gorgeous pre-WWII residential building in a historic area of our town which our family cherished for a long time, and learned it had been filled with classical music concerts for decades, something we deeply cherish, too. We can confidently say that the understanding of home as a powerhouse brought with it the ability to see and perceive its concrete expression in our experience. It also strengthened us to replace a limited sense of home for the expansive view of home as the consciousness of divine Love.
Now in other areas, too, I find placing a mental lamp (announcing the demand) and at the same time looking out for the answer (the supply part) is a powerful tool. God's love is providing the inspiration for both.
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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