Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy is an extraordinary, wonderful book. I study it daily and I will never be "finished" with it. There are several pages I go back to again and again. One is page 248:
The sculptor turns from the marble to his model in order to perfect his conception. We are all sculptors, working at various forms, moulding and chiseling thought. What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering? Have you accepted the mortal model? Are you reproducing it? Then you are haunted in your work by vicious sculptors and hideous forms. Do you not hear from all mankind of the imperfect model? The world is holding it before your gaze continually. The result is that you are liable to follow those lower patterns, limit your life-work, and adopt into your experience the angular outline and deformity of matter models.
To remedy this, we must first turn our gaze in the right direction, and then walk that way. We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives. Let unselfishness, goodness, mercy, justice, health, holiness, love — the kingdom of heaven — reign within us, and sin, disease, and death will diminish until they finally disappear.
Let us accept Science, relinquish all theories based on sense-testimony, give up imperfect models and illusive ideals; and so let us have one God, one Mind, and that one perfect, producing His own models of excellence.
Let the “male and female” of God's creating appear.
(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 248:12–5)
This whole passage is about our lives' work - because we are indeed sculptors and we can make a choice. Divine Love is presenting the very best models. I have made a list of observations and practical applications for my own work in the Christian Science Practice, and I want to share with you just a few thought that came to me again when visiting Michelangelo's famous David in Florence in August 2021.
In 1501 Michelangelo began working on his colossal masterpiece, the 17-foot-tall (4,57 m) marble David. From a huge and extremely precious block of marble that had been abandoned after several other artists had turned down the offer to work it, Michelangelo took on the challenge. The topic he took is young David, the shepherd, who slew the giant Goliath and went to become a valiant and just Hebrew king, a poet, the central figure for the Israelites. It took him three years to finish the work and the statue was erected in 1504 in the public plaza of Florence. Michelangelo had a model, there are drawings he made from a young Italian man – he knew what the statue should look like. For him this statue was inside the marble and he "only" had to liberate it.
What is evident from Mary Baker Eddy's observations of the sculptor's task - our task - is that the perception of the model is not the model itself. It is the sculptor that forms it in his own mind and in turn puts that perception into practice. This perception can be changed, and it changes the evidence.
It is important to have the right model, because if you don’t, you are no longer alone in your work. Vicious sculptors mess up your work. Outside forces take over the sacred space of your own consciousness. A progressive life takes a good model and works to put it into practice. We can understand how to be alone in our own workshop. We have the authority to work out our own salvation at our own speed and pace and ensure that we are dealing with the right model before our thought.
We don't know what Michelangelo's model looked like. We have only the result of his perception - in his drawings, in the marble statue. We understand Michelangelo's perception by studying his work of art. The link between the model and the marble is his perception - not the model.
Mary Baker Eddy is teaching us that the material we ought to work with, that is our own marble, is thought. What model is standing in front of you today?
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In my work as Christian Science practitioner and writer I draw on listening to God and listening to people.
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