Wednesday, August 29, 2007

casting our net

I love this story. Jesus had reached adult life, he had gone to John to be baptised and then on into the wilderness to be tempted in preparation for his ministry. Now, he began to lecture and to gather students. We know Simon Peter and his brother were devout because they had already been disciples of John the Baptist, who then directed them to this new teacher. Even early in his work, Jesus attracted crowds. And on this day he was by the lake of Gennesaret. It must have been mid morning as the fishermen had finished their night work and were sitting on shore, cleaning out their nets. Jesus asks Simon Peter, who was still aboard his boat, to push out from shore and let Jesus speak to the crowd. So we know Simon Peter must have been sitting near him as he spoke. When he was finished, he asked Simon Peter to launch out into deeper water and let down the nets. Now those were large and cumbersome, just cleaned, so this was no small request. It would require faith on the disciple's part to be willing to lay them all out again, especially in daylight, when the nets were visible to the fish. But, impressed by what he had heard, Simon Peter obeyed, and now the nets were so full that he needed to call to his partners to come help him bring in the catch. It was enough to fill both ships.

As I thought about that, it occured to me that these men were part of an operation involving multiple boats and men. Their catch would have been important to the people of their town, who might have gone hungry without it. It was their livelihood and would have meant no income for the fishermen that day, and possible no food for their own families. Quite a few people were then provided for with this unexpected bounty.

It was time for Simon Peter and the others to consider a career change, becoming fishers of men. Prior to this event, Jesus had been a guest at Simon Peter's home and healed his mother-in-law. One wonders how the news was recieved that Simon Peter was abandoning his profession to follow this new teacher. But the text of the gospel indicates that they forsook all and followed him. Physically followed him as he began to visit other towns and taught in their synogogues.

This must have made a big impression on them and would be a reminder when Jesus met up with them again after the resurrection, for they had again toiled in vain, having returned to their old profession.

Every year I do a personal metaphyical study. One year, as I prayed, it came to me to study this idea of 'casting your net'. It was when the whole internet thing was affecting so many people, around the time I had gone into the full time practice of Christian Science and was about to put my name in the Christian Science Journal, a publication read world wide. One thing that has surprised and delighted me on this spiritual journey is the way people find ways to ask me about Christian Science and healing. I have become a fisher of men. And I love it. This is what Jesus instructed his followers to do....heal.

I thought about how those fishermen took care of the nets. At the end of their fishing they pulled them out of the water, removed the fish and then once on shore spread them out. They would have inspected them for holes and cleaned away any debris or weeds. Not a bad idea as we start our day. Check the state of your thinking, know there are no gaps in good, no empty spaces, a perfect design in place. There needs to be time devoted exclusively to Bible study and prayer for oneself. We need to be willing to devote as much care and attention to our spiritual wellbeing as we do to our chosen profession. And not be surprised when others are drawn to us seeking this light.

Go in peace.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

three 'steps' on your spiritual journey

This week's Bible lesson contains a familiar statement that has been illumined in a new way for me. I just love it when that happens. The Bible is so amazing. Layers and layers of meaning that continue to inspire and guide us in practical ways.

Here is the sentence that lit up for me in a new way. "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23) . Three steps to take on our spiritual journey. Many times when I have read this first one, deny himself, I took that as a sort of withholding of something, a sense of doing without. But this week I am applying that in a new way; set aside the material view of myself, deny that self. Deny reality to those things that are not a part of my true identity. Balance that out with affirmations of what is really true about me instead.

The second one, take up your cross daily, always seemed to indicate accepting something as a 'cross to be borne' is the insight that really lifted that one. In ancient times many of the people were nomads, no fixed building as home, traveling with tents. This phrase can also be interpreted as 'take up your tent peg'. They held their tents in place with ropes tied to a cross-shaped peg. In the morning, they would pull those out of the ground as they prepared to move forward. How about making a commitment to 'pull up your tent peg', be ready to move away from what is holding you back or tying you down.

And that 'follow me'. When I was little the snows could get pretty deep during our New Jersey winters. My dad would lead the way down the sidewalk and we would literally follow in his footsteps. How comforting to think the Our Father in heaven is doing that for me today. Clearing the path. Showing me what steps are safe to take.

So today I will resolve to deny those limiting claims about myself and affirm instead my loving, loveable, and lovely reflecting of God, good. I will take up my 'tent peg' and expect to grow today as I move forward through prayer. And in moving forward, I will follow the Master in healing work.

Not a bad way to start the day.

Go in peace with your tent peg.

Friday, August 17, 2007

prisms and magnifying glasses?

As I prayed for someone who is experiencing vision problems the word 'magnify' came strongly to mind so I looked it up in the dictionary. It means to cause to appear greater with the use of a lens. It also means to glorify and praise. That lead me to several Bible verses; Ps 34:3 "O magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together" and Ps 69:30 "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving". When I turned to the hymnal I found references to Mary's song of praise given in Luke 1:46 "My soul doth magnify the Lord, sing all in glad accord!", "I magnify and bless Thee, for faithful is Thy word.", and "I magnify and bless Thee, for Thou hast made me whole." (Hymn 153)

Turning to Mrs. Eddy's writings I was interested to see how often she paired magnify with prism. A prism is a transparent form, usually glass, that separates white light into the spectrum composed of seven bands of color. Seven is often used to mean completeness. (As I mentioned yesterday Mrs. Eddy gives seven synonyms for God in the glossary) Binoculars contain a pair of prisms. The faces of the prism reflect the light rays internally so that an upright non-reversed image is seen. Great metaphysical implications. Here is what Mrs. Eddy wrote in a Message to The Mother Church in 1901: "Divine Science is not an interpolation (to explain the meaning of something) of the Scriptures, it is redolent with health, holiness, and love. It only needs the prism of divine Science, which scholastic theology has obscured, to divide the rays of Truth, and bring out the entire hues of God. The lens of Science magnifies the divine power to human sight; and then we see the allness of Spirit, therefore the nothingness of matter." And in Science and Health; "To mortal sense Science seems at first obscure, abstract, and dark; but a bright promise crowns its brow. When understood, it is Truth's prism and praise. When you look it fairly in the face you can heal by its means, and it has for you a light above the sun, for God is the light thereof." (page 558)

So today, despite our rainy weather and dark skies, I will be thinking about prisms and the light of understanding. I will pray with the seven synonyms and magnify that application as I praise and glorify Our Father. I will be seeing the non-reversed image of man as the exact reflection of God.

Go magnify in peace.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

seven tools to help you pray

Science and Health includes a glossary that contains spiritual interpretations of Bible terms. The defintion for God includes seven synonyms that can be used when praying; Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love. I often work with a thought from the Bible or from Science and Health substituting these other names for God. This morning I was reading the Watch Prayer given my Mrs. Eddy to the readers of The Mother Church in 1902. It begins; "God, good, reigns! There is no other mind".

So my prayers today will revolve around working with this sentence and expanding it by using the synonms. To reign is to prevail or dominate. For example, Principle, or the laws of good, reign. That means that the laws of God are in operation today for each of us. There are no other laws that can affect us, influence us, or change what God has prepared for them who love Him. Mind, or divine intelligence, reigns. There is no other mind but God's, doing all the knowing and what He knows is the goodness of all He created. That is the mind I reflect as His image and likeness. Because Mind is always present I can never be absent-minded or forgetful. I can always knows just what I need to know at every moment. Soul, or the spiritual senses, reign. Vision, hearing, feeling are qualities of Soul so I reflect clear sight, sharp hearing, true beauty,and happiness. Spirit reigns! My true identity is spiritual and substantial. I have an unblemished identity as God's very image and likeness, and so does everyone else. Life reigns! God is always expressing Himself so my life is full and whole and good, filled with right activity, strength, vitality. Truth reigns! Only what is true about God and His creation can be expressed in my life today as honesty in how I deal with others and how they interact with me. Love reigns! That means I am loved, loving and lovable.

You get the idea. Try doing this for yourself and the things you are praying about. Keep it simple or expand on it This is your time with God.

Go in peace times seven.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Be grateful for the fleas?

Years ago I read a wonderful book by Corrie ten Boom. The Hiding Place told of her experience in a concentration camp during the Second World War. Her whole family had been turned in to the authorities for hiding Jews. They were sentenced to share their fate. Corrie and her sister were put into a dormitory/warehouse with about 300 women. It was hot, crowded and infested with fleas. One day, frightened and frustrated with things, Corrie challenged her sister, who seemed to stay upbeat and confident; "Give me one good reason to be grateful!" Her sister replied quietly, "We are together". That made her think. Her sister went on to say that they had a unique opportunity to share the gospel as, despite their treatment when they arrived, she had been able to hold on to her small New Testament. Corrie grumbled: "Well, alright, I guess I can see what you are saying. But I refuse to be grateful for these fleas!"

Corrie survived that experience and became a successful writer and lecturer. Many came to hear her talks. One day, a man stayed afterward and asked to speak with her. With tears in his eyes he begged for her forgiveness. He had been one of the guards in that camp. She could honestly tell him that she had forgiven him long ago. As they talked, she asked if he could explain one thing that had always puzzled her. All those years, when so many women were being abused by the guards, no one had taken the women from her building. "Oh," replied the man, "that was because of the fleas".

How many times we are working our way through some situation and it is so hard to stay confident, trusting inGod's care. It is hard to be grateful before the fact. Yet that is what Jesus did many times. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health; "The very circumstances, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares". I've had many times when those angels spoke so clearly to me and I was given the grace to listen and obey.

Go in peace...with gratitude.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Like the Eagle

Our Bible lesson this week, Soul, spells out pretty clearly the difference between what we behold with the material senses and what spiritual sense tells us. These senses are a way to see how we perceive ourselves. How we feel. Many people turn to Christian Science for healings connected with sight, hearing, and feelings. The lesson also brings out strength and beauty as natural reflections of Soul.

One example given for beauty and strength is from Isaiah 40: 31. And it specifically mentions eagles. I did not know much about their lives until I researched it a bit in a book, Strange Scriptures that Perplex the Western Mind. Here is what I found.

The eagle lives to a very great age. As he grows, his beak becomes so long that he can no longer eat. Then he flies away by himself to the top of a cliff where he pecks and pecks on a rock until his beak falls off. Another one will grow in its place, but while he is without the use of it, he loses his feathers because he must fast. Once the new beak has grown in and he again can take food, new feathers start growing. Now he appears to be a young eagle, and soars forth in his new covering with youthful beauty and strength. I see so many interesting ways to look at this spiritually.

When a problem has hung on persistently, we might feel that our only recourse is to go away on our own to pray about this. Sometimes it can feel like beating your head against a rock until deep prayer and quiet, undisturbed listening leads to the answer we need. Then the 'hardness' falls away. We might need to 'fast', keep our thought as pure as possible, shutting out negative thinking, making some mental adjustments, changing how we feel about something...or someone. As these changes take place, we can gradually get back to a more normal routine. The beauty of this kind of regeneration is that it takes place in mind and then is evident by the changes in the body or the situation that was so troublesome to us. We feel refreshed, strong, and confident. And with any healing there should be sincere gratitude.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah

Soar in peace.

Friday, August 10, 2007

lessons from a chambered nautilus

August was my favorite month as a child. I was blessed with a full and happy childhood growing up in New Jersey. My Aunt Juanita had a beach house large enough to accomodate all the relatives and we spend most of August there. To this day I love early morning walks along a beach, even along the Gulf of Mexico now that I am in Texas. Or along the California coast with my son Matt. It was a quiet time when everyone else was sleeping and I could stroll along the tide lines looking for gifts from the sea.

That is also the title of a book by Anne Morrow Lindberg. She divided her life into phases and compared them to the sea shells she found during a two week spiritual retreat on an island. One chapter referred to the chambered nautilus. I have a small collection of books about sea shells and this month my room is decorated with an ocean theme. I don't have an actual chambered nautilus shell but I went to our local rock and gem shop and bought a fossilized ammonite that had been cut in half and polished. It looks much like I image the nautilus shell to be.

What makes this creature so inspiring to me is the way it grows and develops. As it develps it's everexpanding spiral, it seals off the previous chamber that it has now outgrown. Before it does that, it pushes out any debris that may have accumulated. Each section is then watertight and filled with air. This gives bouyancy. The more chambers outgrown, the greater the bouyancy. I'd like to compare my own spiritual growth to that. How important to discard any old wrong thinking or left over hurts or disappointments. Any memories that cause pain. Why entomb that weight to impede my ablility to be uplifted and upheld. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health: "The way to extract error from mortal mind is to pour in truth through flood-tides of Love." Divine Love works with us to forgive, to love more and fear no ill.

Float in peace today

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The worm as a role model?

I love to laugh. Many times being able to see the funny side of things breaks the tension. The Bible records that Jesus wept. I think he also laughed because that is a quality of Soul that he must have possessed in abundance. I read something this morning that made me laugh and I'll share it with you.

One of my favorite things is gardening. I won't even get into the unusually wet weather we have experienced lately. Not at all funny, really. But I still love gardening and hope to get serious about again come September. The author of the article I was reading also loved gardening and hers was blessed with an abundance of earthworms. She was amazed that such a soft, limp creature could make its way through such a solid world. It must have been slow going! From a human standpoint one might think impatience or frustration perfectly natural. Especially if a worm could compare itself to another animal, say an eagle. Gives you pause.

Well, Mrs. Eddy mentions worms in her writings. She says: "Patience is symbolized by the tireless worm, creeping over lofty summits, perservering in its intent." Maybe the worm isn't such a strange rode model after all. How funny to envision a worm as the subject of the advice given in Hebrews 12:1. "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

When we pray about challenges, it is not eternal human effort that is asked of us. It is spiritual effort, a willingness to change our thought about something, a mental shift. One summer, when I was employed as a school librarian, finances were tight and I was about to face six weeks without an income. I was feeling quite concerned about this but there didn't seem to be much I could do about it. I only needed a job for those six weeks, no one would hire me for that short a time. I couldn't really see applying for work knowing I would go back to full time employment in September. It was frustrating and I was thinking about it all the time. Then I decided to pray about it instead, to know that there was a solution and God would know exactly how I could use my talents to bless and be blessed. I just needed to trust and be patient. Once I began to pray along those lines, joyfully anticipating giving of His gifts, I felt at peace and the fear left. Two days before the end of July and our summer school program, I got a call from a principal of another school. He was desperate. Their librarian had been called to a family emergency in another state. Her order of hundreds of books had just arrived and she was going to be away for the entire month of August so those books would not be checked in, cataloged, and put on the shelves before school opened. Was there any way I could be available to help out? You bet! I drove over the next day, he handed me the keys for the library and went on vacation. But before he left, he gave me a check... for the exact amount I would have been paid for the month during the school year.

I worked patiently all month, laying aside the weight of worry, and rejoicing that I was seeing the very clear evidence of Love's right answer for any problem. While waiting patiently on God may seem like a slow process, you can trust in His lovingkindness and provision. Incidently, my favorite definition for that work is expecting good calmly.

Go in peace.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bread, fish and wheels

This morning I was reading an article in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly publication that never fails to being me helpful spiritual ideas. (I provided a link for you if you'd like to know more about it) Near the end of the article the writer made this comment and it really started a chain of thought for me. He wrote, 'After all, Jesus didn't change the loaves and fishes into a seven-course banquet!'. Hmmm. What he did was generously meet the needs of a gathered multitude. Not once, but twice! He had spoken to them about God's great love for them, His constant tender care. In each instance there were thousands of listeners gathered; men, women and children. They had stayed with him for some time, satisfying their spiritual hunger and now their need was for something to eat. They were far from any market yet when the need became apparent someone came forward to offer freely of what they had. And that was more than enough to provide for them all, with leftovers. I'm sure some of those parents, probably humble everyday folks, were wanting to know how to meet their families needs. They were not asking for gourmet food or Starbucks coffee. They just wanted to know that this new way of understanding God and his provision would do this. In a form that made sense to them. Fish and bread. Jesus backed up his words with practical proof. And so can we.

Sometimes when we struggle with what appears to be a limited budget, an inadequate balance in the check book, shrinking savings, investments not giving us the financial return we hoped for, a frustrating employment situation with little room for advancement or pay raise, all those negatives connected with supply, what is it we expect God to do? Do we outline just how that need is going to be met or are we willing to trust that God, divine intelligence, already knows what we need before we ask. So if He knows, where is it? If He's opened up the windows of Heaven and pouring it out, why can't I see it? Just where does the change take place? Always it is in thought, in a new way of seeing God as the unlimited source of supply and our connection to Him as His beloved child.

While doing some research in the reading room yesterday I came across an interesting way to think of God and supply. Written many years ago the illustration referred to a factory. In it there is a main wheel that is always in motion. All smaller wheels become active when they are connected to it. The main wheel keeps going, ever ready to give power. What is required is unity with the main this case Our Father, God. He never withholds good. It is His holy nature to be pouring it out constantly. Where is it all going? Directly to His beloved children.

So today reach out, as you pray, and see that you are connected with this Source. Rejoice that it is right here, right now. Know that God is giving you the wisdom and strength to know it. Keep your thought open to seeing your human needs met in unexpected and wonderful ways. And above all remember to say 'thank you'.

Go in peace

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

This might be a good time to give you an example of how practical Christian Science is and how I used it for a nice healing recently. I was included in a trip to the movies with one of my 'grands' last week. As I got in the car, I snagged my foot against something on the floor in the back seat. When I looked down a moment later I realized that the nail on my big toe had been bent back and cracked about 2/3rds of the way up. I was startled as I did not feel any pain. It was beginning to bleed. As that toe was exposed in my sandals I was able to wrap a bit of tissue around it on the way to the theater and later wrapped it more securely with a paper napkin. By now it had begun to throb. Although the movie was starting, I began to pray about this situation. Christian Science bases its defintion of God on the first account of creation in Genesis. He is the only cause and creator and all that He creates is good. You and I are His beloved children, created in His very image and likeness. All that He is, we are by reflection. Mrs. Eddy gives a very full defintion in Science and Health. She gives us seven synonyms for God; Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love. As I began to pray, I reached out to God as Our Father, as Jesus suggested with the Lord's Prayer. It was a great comfort to know I could turn to Him no matter what it was I needed and know He was right there, 'a very present help in trouble' as the Bible phrases it. I could do so without fear. Love would be ready with open arms to gather me in and comfort me. As this beloved child I could never be out of Love's control. God's love for me was intact. And that meant everything about me was untouched and intact as well. The word that came to mind was 'flawless'. A perfect gem is flawless, without cracks. That idea helped me see that my relationship to Good was also flawless and without any evidence of a crack or separation. Within minutes the pain disappeared and the bleeding stopped. I replaced the soiled napkine with a clean one. Once we were home I removed that and put on a bandaid. At that point there was some tenderness and the picture was not a pretty one. But I put my shoe back on and went about my day trusting that I was in Love's care. Whenever the incident came to mind I just thanked God and knew that I could rely on the truth of my 'flawlessness' to be evident. The next morning the bandaid came off in the shower. A piece of nail came away without any pain or bleeding, a much smaller piece than had appeared affected the day before. The nail bed was completely restored and there was no discoloration or swelling. The area looked healthy and normal.

Continuing to pray with the idea of being God's likeness, I reasoned that if something did not appear on the original, it could not suddenly happen to the reflected image. God has not been affected by this incident and I did not have to be either. Sometimes when I am praying I will remember a phrase from a familiar hymn. As I prayed about my toe what popped into my head was 'I know no life divided, O Lord of life, from Thee'. That is hymn 135 in our hymnal. To me it stands for no separation, no loss. Because my true spiritual identity is one with God, my human experience can be 'flawless' so there was no need to believe that I would lose the whole nail, and I hadn't. There is never a need to fear something that happened in the past, appeared to be present at the moment, or might result in the future. I am one with God right now and always have been. Since He fills all space where else could I ever be?

A sense of well being and peace washed over me and that was the end of the incident. Not a big deal in the overall scheme of things but proof to me that prayer works, the laws of God, good, are in operation on my behalf constantly. Examples like this help build understanding and confidence when greater challenges appear. I am most grateful.

Go in peace.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Question of the week: How do I worship God?

This is prompted by the this week's Bible Lesson on Spirit. Jesus tells the woman of Samaria 'they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. The lesson continues with Psalm 95:2 and this is what prompted me to ask myself that question. "Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms." Hmmm. Do I start my prayers with gratitude for all the good He has already lavished on me, with an expectation that His lovingkindness will continue to pour out to meet all my human needs? When I pray, is it a joyful noise? Oh dear. I do see that I have come a long way in my study of Christian Science and my understanding of prayer. I can honestly say most prayers are entered into with a spirit of worship. This week I will be alert to just how I worship Our Father.

The lesson continues with letters that were written to the early churches. (I'm sure it is no coincidence that there were seven churches named) This is especially timely as our branch church is working together to pray for growth. I will look carefully at the advice given and see how it can help us understand the true purpose of church and our part as worshippers. It will be fun to look for encouragement 'to the church at San Marcos'.

Go in peace.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

welcome to the new site!

With lots of help from my computer whiz of a son, Jim, I am launching this new site today. It gives me a place to post some of the things I am learning in my on-going study of Christian Science and share thoughts about my spiritual journey. Very exciting!

A fun insight came my way this week about Noah and the ark. It is actually very encouraging to remember that Noah was not a carpenter by trade. He was chosen for a particular task and must have realized that God would provide all that was needed for him to complete it successfully. We can be strengthened by that idea in whatever we find ourselves called upon to do.Even if it is outside of our regular sphere. Especially if it is. That ark was about the height and width of the Titanic, although only half as long. Not a small task for Noah. He didn't worry about whether or not he was qualified to do it, he just obeyed. The other idea I really liked was that there was only one window in the entire vessel and it was on top. For those inside the safety of the ark, to look outside was to look up and be reminded of God, His allness and His goodness. They were shielded from the view of flood and storm. They were not to focus on what could alarm or frighten them. They were not overwhelmed. They were uplifted.

The gospels tell of a time when Jesus healed a woman who had been suffering with an issue of blood, a problem that had troubled her for twelve years. When she recieved her healing the Master told her she could 'go in peace'. That meant she could go her way, confident that she had been healed of that problem and it would never return. I will end my blog entries that way.

Go in peace.