Friday, September 28, 2007


More thoughts inspired by my love of the sea. Growing up in New Jersey, I spent most of the summers down by the Jersey shore. I loved to find shells and pieces of sea glass. Rarely, I could find a barnacle washed ashore. Their shape appealed to me and it was only years later that I learned the barnacle produces one of the most powerful natural glues on earth. In their mature stage they attach themselves to a rock or submerged surface. Don't bother trying to pry them loose.

I read a wonderful article in a Christian Science periodical about how boat owners can deal with barnacles crusting the bottom of their vessels. This kind of growth slows the boat down and it does not respond well to its captain. You could take the boat out of the water and use heavy duty machinery to clean the hull but this causes damage. A better solution is to sail your boat into fresh water. Barnacles need salt water. Expose them to fresh water and they will eventually die and drop off on their own.

We occasionally become aware of something that has lodged in our thought or on our bodies that we would like removed. We can try medical means, and might even get some temporary relief, but sometimes the side effects are worse than the original problem. And that does not remove whatever caused it in the first place. It can, and often does, return. The whole process can be damaging. How much better to 'sail our boat' into fresh water, purify our thinking. Our real identity as an idea of God remains untouched. Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health that 'Christian Science presents unfoldment, not accretion". Accretion is something that is added from without vs. that unfoldment which comes from within. The only growth we ever want to encouarge is spiritual. Why allow barnaclelike, stubborn opinions or habits accumulate until they seriously impede your progress, your ability to move forward.

Go in peace, free from baranacle.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Do you know how pearls are made? A little grain of sand gets into the shell and literally under the oyster's skin. Unable to dislodge it, the oyster produces a substance that coats the tiny irritant. Now the intruder is not so prickly, but it is still there. So the oyster continues to add layers to it and over time a lustrous pearl is the result.

Anything managed to get 'under your skin' lately? If you have been unable to dislodge it immediately, you have two choices. You can continue to be irritated...or you can create a pearl. A pearl of wisdom if you approach this metaphysically. This is an opportunity to take the very thing that is causing you pain and turn it into a glowing life lesson.

So many things can creep into thought if we are not careful. Rudeness. Inconsiderate drivers. Making a special trip to a store for an item only to find they don't carry it any more. Having to use the last of your cash to fill up the gas tank...again. A remark that rankled from a friend or family member. The list goes on and on. It's not what comes up in our daily experience that matters, it's how we choose to deal with it. There are actually those who choose to hang on to some irritant, mulling it over and over, replaying what happened for fresh resentment. Sometimes it can seem the hardest thing in the world to just forgive someone, much less forget it ever happened. Especially if you feel you were in the right.

Peter must have had more than one upsetting moment with his brother. He asks Jesus "how many times am I expected to forgive him? Will seven times do it?" I'm sure Jesus looked on Peter with affection as he said, "Try seventy times seven". That would be some pearl!

On the other hand, wouldn't it be something to know you were building a beautiful strand of perfect pearls, even if no one else can see them? Actually, I think they do. They see a change in you and your reactions to things. It becomes more of a healing response because there is love behind it. Next time you find yourself struggling with that grain of sand, consider turning it into pearl instead. Think of God as Love, not just a loving God, but Love itself. Try to imagine Love filling all space, even those spaces in your heart and mind that hold on to old hurts and injustices.

The dictionary also says a pearl is someone who is highly regarded for one's beauty and values. When you see someone with a genuine smile on their face, they look beautiful. So try letting that Light shine right through you today.

Glow in peace.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Shepherd's thoughts - Part Seven

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of Lord forever.

Here is the Good Shepherd's promise and provision for those 'bad' days. In the drought times, during emergencies, in the darkness, in time of need. No matter what the future promises or predicts, we can assured of God's good provision for today. And His kindness in providing it.

To dwell is to stay permenantly in one place. After all the changes and journeyings how comforting to find this abiding place. And it is not just any place, it is the house of the Lord. Mrs. Eddy defines 'house' when interpreting Psalm 23 as 'consciousness'. So we are abiding in the consciousness of God, within perfect Mind. That makes us an idea of God. Always held as that perfect idea without variableness. This is where we stay.

In this House there is no want, no sadness or depression, no illness, no separation. No forced rests. No polluted 'water'. No predators, no valleys, no search for food, no need for rod or staff, and most important, no need for healing. How long will this be? For all the days of my life.

Go peacefully.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shepherd's thoughts - Part Six

Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.

The shepherd has brought the sheep safely back to the village. As they pass through the gate to their pen he carefully and tenderly examines each one. Only their face and ankle area are exposed, so he checks to be sure there are no little scrapes or stings from brambles or flies, using oil to gently soothe affected places. Mrs. Eddy defines 'oil' in the glossary of Science and Health as consecration, charity, gentleness, prayer, and heavenly inspiration. Did you notice how the pronouns changed from the early part of the psalm? Now it is personal. From talking about the shepherd, now the sheep is talking directly to him, speaking intimately to their beloved keeper. Once the oil has been applied a transformation takes place in behavior. Gone is aggravation and irritability. The sheep can lie down peacefully for the night. Taking a moment to be with our Shepherd as we settle in for the night can remove any of the stings and irritations from our day, allowing us to be soothed for a night of peaceful rest.

In the Bible anointing is not limited to sheep. People are anointed with oil prior to spiritual service. Anointing is not about pouring a solution over someone's head, it suggests a moment when the power of divine Love comes into play to control the 'pests' that bother us, causing pain or the discomforting sting of criticism. Only Spirit can quiet the irritations of life and create contentment and an awareness of God's presence.

The shepherd then gives each sheep a cup of cool water, filled to the brim. As followers of the Shepherd we should be seen as the most contented people on earth. We know that the Good Shepherd is able to cope with all our human needs, good or bad. Our cup, our lot in life, is a happy one that overflows with benefits.

The next entry will finish up this Psalm and our visit with the Shepherd.

Go in peace.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - Part Five

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mind enemies

Before one eats, the table needs to be set. The shepherd scouts out the best grass for grazing, checking for poisonous weeds and predators. Sheep will not eat when they are fearful. The shepherd removes whatever is harmful and guides them to what is most beneficial.

Who sets the table at your house? What do they use? Does it depend on who will be sharing the meal? Place mats or table cloth? Paper plates or china? Paper cups or glasses? Notice who is 'setting the table' in this Psalm. The Good shepherd, God, is fixing dinner for you and me. We must be pretty special to Him. Angels could do this, and in some instances in the Bible they do, but in this Psalm it is God Himself. And He sits down and joins us. One of the ultimate marks of friendship in the Bible is eating together. If you share food and salt you cannot be enemies. Zacchaeus prepared a meal for Jesus after he was forgiven his past actions. Lazarus prepared a feast for the Lord after his resurrection. Our Lord is doing this for us and we are the honored guests.

So what about the 'enemies' part? Right where evil is threatening us or predicting something bad, right there the shepherd is taking care of us. One of the best ways to pray about this type of situation is with Psalm 91. It describes the safety of those who trust in God, especially when faced with calamity. It covers snares, words that would try to trap us into believing in a presence or power other than God, good. That 'noisome pestilence' is malicious speech aimed to cause hurt or resentment. We never need to be afraid, day or night, of any form of error. We are immune from disease, even when it claims through the media to be afffected mulitiudes. No evil can come upon us, no plague of thoughts or symptoms. Look up what Mrs. Eddy has to say about enemies, especially in Miscellaneous Writings. She asks; "Can you see an enemy, except thou first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception?"

In the presence of the Shepherd we are guests at His table, protected from anything unlike Himself. Mrs. Eddy also said the Truth removes properly whatever is offensive. Removes it from where? Your own thought.

The shepherd and the sheep are coming to the end of their day. We are coming to the end of this remarkable Psalm. Some of my favorite verses lie just ahead.

Go sit at His table in peace.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - Part Four

Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.

Everyone has 'valley' experiences. Those times when we feel trapped in a dark or depressing place or state of thought. Those problems just loom above us like threatening mountains. As the shepherd is bringing the flock back down to the village, he passes through such places. It is at this point in Psalm 23 that the personal pronouns I and Thou appear and it becomes a very intimate conversation. The good shepherd never takes his flock where he had not already gone himself to look things over with care. Nothing takes him by surprise. So those sheep do not have to feel uneasy or afraid. And neither do we. This verse shows up that we walk right through this phase. To walk through the valley is to take the gentler grade as one winds one's way back. We might find that these valley experiences are the ones we remember as times we were closest to God. The Shepherd was with us all the way.

The shepherd carries a minimum of equipment. In the Middle East he carries only a rod and staff. This has been carefully chosen, suited to his size and strength. It fits the owner's hand. It could be used like a javelin to drive away preditors or even as a club, an extension of the shepherd's arm. It stood for his power and authority. When necessary it could be used for discipline, herding the sheep to a safer place, controlling his flock in every situation. Moses used his rod to part the Red Sea, showing the intention of divine Love to lead His children to safety. In the Old Testament the rod was used to examine and count the sheep. This was referred to as passing 'under the rod', being subjected to firsthand examination. We'll get back to that later in the Psalm.

No one else carries a shepherd's staff, a long slender stick with a crook or hook on one end. On long trips up the mountainside the shepherd can lean on it himself as a support. The shepherd will use the staff to bring a newborn lamb to its mother if they become separated. He does not wish her to reject it if it has the scent of a human hand. He can use it reach out and draw a sheep to him, especially if it is caught in thick brambles. It is used for guidance but never for punishment. Both rod and staff bring comfort.

As an interesting side note, I did some research for a Bible talk I will be giving on the Ten Commandments and discovered that there was more stored in the Ark of the Covenant than those two tablets of stone. It is also supposed to contain a golden bowl of manna and Aaron's rod. That reminded me of a time when I was struggling with finances, worried about how work would appear, be completed and the amount paid in time to meet pressing bills. I worked with Numbers 17:8. This describes how Aaron's rod, placed within the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was kept at that time, budded, blossomed and bore fruit in one night. Time is not an issue with God, who is the source of all good. Divine Love is able to meet every human need.

We can take comfort from the rod and staff when we find ourselves passing through a valley experience.

Go through it in peace.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - Part Three

He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of rightousness for His name's sake.

One of the sweetest benefits of being a student of Christian Science is having those moments when divine Love restores my soul. Times when I feel the presence of my Father right here with me, the tender embrace of the Comforter, the deep peace of understanding I am truly His cherished child. At those times I understand our unbreakable relationship. I feel like the lamb the Shepherd holds close to his heart. The shepherd and the flock spend all day up on the mountain. There are hours when he sits among them, playing a flute. Always alert for any danger in the form of thieves or predators, he sits among them and they feel cared for.

As the sun goes down, it is time to head back to the village. He gathers them up and leads them back. The word 'righteousness' appears all through the Scriptures. For me it means right-thinking or Truth-knowing. The shepherd is a leader, an authority figure worthy of trust and respect. He leads and they willingly follow. Our Shepherd leads us along the path of right-thinking. When faced with a problem I often ask myself, just what am I thinking about this situation? Then, what is God thinking about this?That leads to a change of thought, a clearer 'knowing of the Truth' and it is this that leads to healing. Sheep are notorious creatures of habit. Left to themselves they would follow the same trails until they become ruts; graze the same hills until they turn to desert wastes. Poor management. Sheep need guidance and they need to move. How often we choose to stubbornly cling to something when being willing to move leads us to a better situation. Being willing to listen to Him and then to follow takes courage and humility. Those who decide to take those paths move onto fresh ground.

Mrs. Eddy wrote a poem we sing often as a hymn. It begins, "Shepherd show me how to go o'er the hillside steep...and continues "I will listen for Thy voice, lest my footsteps stray. I will follow and rejoice, all the rugged way."

Go along the path in peace.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - Part Two

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Once the shepherd has collected his flock from the pen they head up into the hills outside of the village. This can be some distance away. The shepherd knows where to lead them to find the grass and clover they need. Once they arrive he allows them to rest, lie down in green pastures. There was a time when I was overextending my time and energy. I just couldn't figure what to let go of, it all seemed important. And then I got really ill and couldn't get up for a few days. As I prayed, it seemed to me that my Shepherd was making me lie down for a while, undisturbed, with a gracious period of rest to pray about my life. Within a short time I knew just what I needed to do and was quickly well, up and about. I remember praying with Hymn 148. It begins; "In heavenly Love abiding, no change my heart shall fear;". That was what I needed to know. The third verse begins: "Green pastures are before me, which yet I haven't seen".

The sheep are also thirsty after the walk and the good shepherd knows how to find fresh water. It is often in streams which the shepherd can dam to make quiet pools. The sheep could easily drown if they fell into swift moving water. So it is important to create that stillness. Still water also gives a perfect reflection. We've all seen pictures like that, with mountains and clouds perfectly reflected on the surface of a lake. Mrs. Eddy has much to say about the concept of reflection in her writings. "Man is, and forever has been, God's reflection."

So you and I, as the cherished members of the Good Shepherd's flock, can know that our daily needs have been thought out and loving provided. We can expect our environment to be like the green pastures. We can look for those moments of quiet and stillness that allow us to see the perfect reflection. Mrs. Eddy sums it up with "Divine Love always has met and always will me every human need".

Go in peace today.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Shepherd thoughts - part one

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

When I first read the Bible I was instantly drawn to Psalm 23. I was not at all surprised to find that it was written by David, a shepherd himself. It was my favorite prayer and finding Mrs. Eddy's spiritual interpretation of it in our textbook was a delight. The year I studied Psalm 23 I tried to come to it with fresh eyes, to look much deeper for meaning. It was a year of discovery.

To me, God is our Shepherd, and He cares for us with as much devotion as the Biblical shepherds cared for their flocks. Most of the sheep were owned by families that treated them like cherished pets. At night, the flocks were kept in a guarded pen. Each morning, the various shepherds would appear and call out to the sheep of their flock. Each sheep knew that call and came obediently. They trusted their shepherd to guide them safely to food and water and to watch over them until they returned at night.

Those sheep understood that under the care of their shepherd, all their daily needs would be carefully thought out. They would not have to do without anything. All they had to do was obey and follow him. What a blessing to make this first sentence our own, apply it to our daily needs, feel that same trust in the Good Shepherd whose sole concern is our welfare and well being. He knows us all by name There are no unwanted ones, none abandoned or alone. Our Shepherd is Our Father Mother God and we are the beloved sheep of His pasture.

More tomorrow

Go in peace, little flock.

Friday, September 7, 2007

I love the hymnal

I was not raised in Christian Science but found it in my early twenties. We did not sing as part of my church experience. So it was quite a feeling when I attended a Christian Science service and everyone stood to sing together. Later, as I began to seriously study it, I was drawn to the hymnal as a source of comfort. There is a companion book, a concordance to the hymnal that includes notes about the composers and writers. Serving as First Reader in our branch church involves choosing the three hymns for the Sunday service. This week I am considering hymn #232.

As I researched this hymn I discovererd that the words were writtten by Margaret Glenn Matters, a Christian Science teacher. The words illustrate a definition in the glossary of Science and Health: MOTHER. God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love. The concordance says that this is probably the first hymn that has directly addressed divine Love as Mother.

Each verse of this hymn ends with the assurance that man is the child of God, God's own child, the loved of Love. I had not thought of God that way growing up. Finding Christian Science at the time in my life when I had just become a mom myself, it was quite a revelation. I loved my own Mom deeply. It has taken maturity and life experience to see just what a wonderful job she did in giving me such a happy childhood. I can easily make a list of her qualities, the qualities I hope I express with my children. Seeing God as my divine Mother takes prayer to a new level.

My mom had found her religion when she married my dad. She raised us within that church. But it never brought me the comfort I wanted, it never measured up to my personal view of what God is. All my life I pictured Him as the Good Shepherd. I did not believe He was harsh or condemning. I just couldn't accept the idea that innocent babies arrive with a sin already attached. I questioned my teachers and struggled with religious education until my early teens when I left that church and began my own search. My dear Mom understood. The first time I read Science and Health and found Mrs. Eddy's lovely interpretation of Psalm 23 I knew I had found what I had been looking for.

Over the next few days I would like to share some of the things that came to me as I studied Psalm 23 for a year. That was a wonderful journey and has stayed with me. It is my favorite way to connect with God and His love for me. More tomorrow.

Go in peace.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Practice - A Poem written in 2000

The Practice
Matthew 14:14
And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

He didn't sit in a room
waiting for the phone to ring.
He arose in thought
available, approachable,
ready to see prefection,
knowing there were no sick, or sad, or bad.

And great multitudes came,
from far and near,
seeking healing, wanting to hear
from one who saw them as already perfect
why this was so.

He was moved.
Conscious of their distress,
with a desire to aleviate it,
he moved among them
never repulsed or condemning,
always loving and compassionate.

Thus he healed
seeing them only
as they were,
and are,
and ever will be.
At one with their Father Mother, God.
Already perfect and whole.
Never separated from Love.

To practice is to go forth,
knowing only one Mind,
feeling the love of Love expressed,
healing the belief of sickness,
uplifting the deadened thought,
casting out error,
cleansing sin with Truth.

Divinity demonstrated.

Searching around in the garage for something else, I found the notebook I kept as I was preparing to go into the full time practice of Christian Science. I look forward to browsing through the articles and seeing where my thoughts were at that time.

Like this: Do not work against error but feel the Love that dissolves it.

Go in peace.