Learning to love: We can do this! Mary Baker Eddy shares this revolutionary definition of prayer - which I brought into this colorful little image - in her work "No and Yes" on p. 39. Yes, this is true prayer - because it involves the kind of sacrifice of ego, true effort, which is the only activity that ever moves anything forward. It is affection, the willingness to listen rather than speak, patience, a generous heart - a guarantee for progress and healing.
If you think you can't do that, you have encountered what the American author Steven Pressfield calls "resistance". He writes that "resistance" is a force that is neither a personal thing nor aimed at any one individual, a force that aims at keeping things as they are. "Resistance" is expressed not just in discouragement, but also in negativity, in a rehearsal of "the same old story", in the stifling of aspirations through sarcasm, the stoking of fears, self-doubt - and procrastination. A "resistance" that has been around for a very long time - only open the Bible for a starter.
Christ Jesus gave us the mightier tool in order to deal with "resistance". He invited us to follow him and to get to know Life, Truth, and Love, as they truly are, the reality of being. Following Jesus' example of practical love and healing moves one in a new direction - upward, outward, into a space of freedom and meaningful work. The desire to learn is the new normal in the kingdom of heaven. A true and honest desire - a desire that marches on no matter what and that aims at mastering the art that we are in the middle of learning. As they say: All things are difficult, before they are easy.
Of course, learning includes a lot of aspects that are challenging and in a way not fun: memorizing vocabulary when you learn a language, finger exercises when you learn an instrument, countless hours in the gym when you learn fencing (and need to work at your legwork, for starters), it includes the acceptance of exams, of opportunities to show what you've learned, of using what you have learned. Eventually what you learned will feel normal, like the new language you speak, the instrument you can play, the fencing you show in a competition.
From Love's perspective there is no resistance to including all mankind in one affection. From a human perspective there is a fierce resistance against everything that moves us forward and away from a human self shaped by a family tree, circumstance, or opportunity. To include all mankind in one affection rather than moving forward a personal agenda makes constant demands on the way we think and act. The resistance to learning to love grows beautifully less and less and less as we master what we are learning more and welcome the sacrifices, the work involved, as part of the learning curve, never as a sign that we can't do it. "Learning to love" is for all of us the most meaningful and satisfying and empowering activity of any day. It glorifies Life, God, like nothing else.
You will be inspired by this outstanding example of someone who got to know prayer as a way of learning to love - and how this prayer brought forgiveness and healing. You can find the article from the Christian Science Sentinel here.
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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