Is more better? Are many people better than just a few? In preparing for a conference with several colleagues it was a mild shock for us to see at the opening only a handful of people in the audience. Another conference organized by the entire faculty on a historic topic, for which the 300 chairs in the hall had been prepared with programs and handouts, found us carrying home 260 handouts. The forty present had a great time, though. Sometimes musicians meet an almost empty audience. A few years ago I bought a ticket for a 20th century opera by a composer I greatly admire. I expected to attend a sold-out performance (my love for music can visualize nothing less than awesomeness). When I arrived the entrance hall was unusually quiet, the jobless ushers asked me to stay where I was (I had a ticket for the balcony on the third floor) and take a seat in first row. The performance was dashing, although only twenty people (out of possible 900 seats) had shown up.
Recently someone shared with me the disappointment she was feeling when seeing only a few people show up for a service which could have blessed many more. I listened for an answer, and the answer was this: "When I think about the excitement I feel for people and the love I have for humanity, I often feel that each man is like a small universe. It is an honor to meet this universe. It is complete, full of possibilities and qualities, an adventure to get to know. So if you have already one universe in the room, would there be more completeness in the room if there were two?"
This concept is not as strange as it sounds. It does not lead to hermitism or deficiency of love for our sisters or brothers. "Father, where Thine own children are, I love to be" (from a poem by Mary Baker Eddy entitled "Christ my refuge") continues to be the motto of most Christians' lives. But to accept every single woman or man as a universe contributes to peace and contentment in any social setting. It has been extremely comforting and helpful in dealing with all kinds of small and tiny numbers. It has brought healing, and it has shielded me often from counting numbers, while pushing me to perceive quality instead of quantity. It also taught me to stop judging by physical as opposed to spiritual evidence. It invites everyone to listen better, look deeper, and see what wonderful qualities are already there, in one individual already.
In the Bible translation The Message Psalm 139: 14 is rendered:
"Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!"
This complexity is the fullness of divine being, deeply steeped in exuberant creation. Mary Baker Eddy, following the quote from the beginning of the first record of creation in Genesis 1, writes: "The infinite has no beginning. This word beginning is employed to signify the only, — that is, the eternal verity and unity of God and man, including the universe." (Mary Baker Eddy. Science and Health with Key the Scriptures, p. 502)
So whenever I attend a reading, a concert, a conference --- and I note that I am only one of a few, I remember that man includes the universe. And that Love is boundless. Fullness and completeness cannot get more complete as they already are. Elvis Presley, who on his quest for God studied Mary Baker Eddy's Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (you can read more here), wrote in one of his songs how "Love produced the perfect man, that understood, the image of the makers word..." (in his song "Life").
"...man, including the universe" - let this idea open you to a different life style, in which infinity is not the prerogative of the hereafter, but a present possibility of Love, which "produced the perfect man". Evidently with a little rhythm and snap and a wink.
Who is writing?
In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.