Prayer is like feeding a bird. Before the advance comes the waiting. You need stillness, patience, and presence. The stillness puts all human thoughts to rest. Stillness is not really the absence of sound: It is really the absence of noise. Loneliness is not stillness, but a droning inner racket, that stillness can handle with perfect authority. There is no loneliness in stillness, for stillness is divine. Stillness brings to rest the clamor which rattles the human mind in its attempt to rule your feelings. The mess that restlessness creates comes to a halt. We become ready to listen to Spirit. Is your mind chaotic and incomplete and restless? Then other forces are at work and we flee from them into the arms of divine Love. I find comfort and inspiration in Mary Baker Eddy's quoting of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's words, ensuring us
"... that God's greatness flows around our incompleteness, Round our restlessness, His rest." (Pulpit and Press, p. 39)
This rest is the stillness that we need every day. It is packed with goodness and real meaning. This beautiful absence of noise, is a peaceful absence of strife or ambition. Stillness is waiting, stationary power. Waiting on Good. Stillness is unable to be distracted and acknowledges that the only movement there is, is God.
This stillness is the backing of patience. Patience, I think, is the steady force that lifts us about the chaos. Without patience no peace. Patience is "steady as she goes". Patience draws all the goodness and mercy and peace towards us - like a mighty draw. No good can be withholden from the one who is patient and endures, and is patient some more. Everything always ends well, because Good is the Alpha and Omega of everything. The next step is always within reach, because all is One. Everything has a purpose and there is no dead end in infinite Good. Patience is the gateway to experiencing it. Mary Baker Eddy writes:
"The little fishes in my fountain must have felt me when I stood silently beside it, for they came out in orderly line to the rim where I stood. Then I fed these sweet little thoughts that, not fearing me, sought their food of me." (Miscellany, p. 247)
So the stillness and the patience bring us into the presence of Good, which is the third important ingredient in order to experience healing and goodness: Presence. Being present you don't miss the event. Presence is being awake. God is always present effortlessly. Being present is not work or effort. Presence is simply being... there or here. Presence is quiet. Presence ensures that you don't miss anything Good coming your way - because you are awake and alert and, well, present, when Goodness approaches you. In my experience nothing empowers presence as does gratitude for everything, everywhere. Real gratitude means being present in Good.
If you can't feel anything good, or anything at all, if you can't get beyond a sense of loss or regret, you can always practise stillness, patience, and presence. These three are not human achievements, these three are not a performance or an accomplishment. They are divine gifts to every one, gifts that you can unpack without effort. Anybody can be still. Anyone can be patient. Everybody is expressing already the presence of good, because being present is the most basic and simple thing of all. Presence is not work. Presence simply is.
If you are feeding a bird you must become quiet - a friend says, you must become "invisible" - and wait patiently... and stay actively in the presence, in the now, in order to not miss the bird landing on your hand or on the feeder in front of your study. In the last weeks I have met in this way bluejays, bluebirds, cardinals, pileated woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, chickadees, tufted titmouses, goldfinches - and while I met many of them, I know that hundreds many more landed on our feeders during the mornings, but I wasn't present - I was taking a walk, speaking with a patient or a family member, working in my practice, reading a book and not looking up. But the birds are there, all the time, they fly above our forest in the open sky, they land in our vicinity, and they tell us a lot about the life they are living: Expressions of the infinite Soul, that is most certainly the most spectacular artist of all. This Soul is not created but creates all there is. Stillness, patience, presence. Can you think about birds as representatives of the spiritual uplift we all have and all need every day?
Mary Baker Eddy lived and taught the Science of Being, and time and again she shares that stillness is a key attitude if we want to live for mankind, she underlines how important patience is, and how absolutely essential it is to be present. You can't be a part-time consciousness or simply an amateur divine idea, because this is not how this works. Man's being is a complete, divine idea, and therefore alive and progressive. Our being is a continuing appearing of Good, a continuing advance.
Stillness and patience and presence. Man expresses them. Each one of us is, because God creates us every moment. So let's not miss the event. You live in the atmosphere of intelligence, of divine Mind. Use stillness, patience, and presence. New ideas will appear, new ways to being useful will present themselves, new thoughts will brighten up your mental world, new creations of God will delight and enchant you. Stillness, patience, presence.
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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