Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fly with both wings

I am going to attend a Christian Science Association meeting at the end of the summer. I took the course of Christian Science instruction many years ago. My teacher lived in New York city and that is where our annual Association day was held. He passed on some years ago and our group has gotten smaller and smaller. So I have chosen to attend other Associations as a guest on occasion. This year it will be here in Texas, a bit easier for me to get to. The speaker chose a very interesting topic based on a quote from Mrs. Eddy's writings. As many times as I have read Prose Works I was not familiar with this one. In part, it says "The bird whose right wing flutters to soar, while the left beats downward, falls to earth. Both wings must be plumed for ....upward flight." That gives me an image of those often conflicting thoughts that plague us as we pray about a situation. They are usually joined by the word 'but'. I believe in God as my source of unlimited supply...but...I just don't see it evident in my life. I believe in God as Truth...but...I seem to dealing with someone or something that is not honest. I believe in God as everpresent Love....but....I am alone or lonely or without friends or without family. And so on.

So, as I prepare for this talk I am listening carefully for those opposing views that would seem to work against one another. I want both 'wings' strong and pulling upward. I don't just want to glide along, I want to be able to soar.

This morning, reading an talk someone gave about God's infinite card and supply I came upon the phrase 'here and now'. There are the ideas that 'plume both wings'. I can take the arguement I am dealing with and see that whatever it is I need is truly available 'here and now'. One 'wing' affirms that the answer I am praying for is 'here', I don't have to wait for it, it cannot be delayed, it will be clear and easy to understand. It is right here, right now. It is present in this place and at this time. I really like that.

I hope working with this idea might 'plume' your wings and give you the lift you need. If you've never read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, go find a copy. If you've never read Science and Health, today is a very good day to begin.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Prodigal Son's Father

Over the year, when studying the parable of the Prodigal Son I have seen myself as one of the sons. The younger son, resenting the authority figure of his Father, resenting what he perceived as a dull life lived within the boundries of his Father's religion, goes off on his own. He wants to live a life free from restraint and convention. He wants to 'have fun' with companions who feel the same way. He must leave home to do this. Mrs. Eddy gives us a beautiful interpretation of the 23rd Psalm in which she substitutes 'spiritual consciousness' for house or home. The Psalmist was rejoicing that at all times and under all circumstances he was living the house, the consciousness of divine Love. The Prodigal couldn't wait for his Father's death, he demanded his inheritance right then and off he went.

The older son chose to stay at home but apparently did so with a very self-righteous attitude. For when the younger brother finds that his chosen life style brings shame and humiliation and that his chosen companions abandon him, he returns. There is a celebration to welcome him home, for all who know him to see him restored to his full status as the Father's son. The older brother resents this. After all, the kid went off, had a riotous good time, got wasted, and then comes home to a welcome!?! Not fair.

These days, I am making more of an effort to associate myself with the Father. He never wavered in his love for his sons. When the Prodigal left, he kept an eye out for his return, never doubting that he would come home. When the older brother refused to join the party, he went out to him and reasoned gently with him, reminding him of his loyalty.

It is tough for a parent to watch their child waste opportunities, run out of money, take up with the wrong companions, suffer poor health. Suffer consequences. Any loving parent would want to help their child avoid that. But sometimes lesson must be learned. The good Father stands fast, just loving that child, trusting them to God's care, always ready to welcome them 'back'. At no timie does the Father in the parable say "I told you so". For he hadn't. He had let the child go. But he was more than willing to meet him halfway on his return. Running to meet him with an embrace and kisses. Much like the reunion of Jacob and Esau, separated for 20 years due to treachery and deceit on that younger son's part.

Best of all, our heavenly Father never see us in either role, as Prodigal or Elder Brother. When either one got tired of seeing themselves in that light and desired to return to his true state, the readjustment rested with the child. What about all that wasted substance or those years of resentment? The supply of good had been constant for both sons the whole time. The Father had not withheld good from them. Their status as his beloved child had not changed in the Father's eyes, only in their own. An impoverished state is wholly a mental condition. It could and did change as quickly as the boys changed their thought.

Also, the Father did not suffer with the children. His loving attitude and unconditional love and forgiveness is what allowed them both to 'come home' without fear. No parents harmony is dependant on his child's sense of well being. That would be a form of idolatry, or as the Rule for Motives and Acts states, mere personal attachment. Parents need to see God as Life, in whom all good is found to be permanent and inexhaustible. We cannot heal a situation that involves another without their consent, but we can always handle the false belief in our own consciousness so it does not affect our harmony and peace, to overcome anxiety.

Do you find traces of yourself in this parable? It is well worth thinking about. The bottom line is that we are never out of the Father's care. He loves each and every one of us. Just as He sees us. Just as we truly are.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Finding direction for our path

I woke this morning thinking about someone dear to me. This verse was running through my mind; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path". My children attended a private school where each day started with a chapel meeting. One of the teachers particularly loved this verse and recited it often.

Later, when I picked up the Christian Science Journal for April, I opened to an article that contained that same verse and another one I love from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. "He (God) has mercy upon us, and guides every event of our careers." Since God is guiding this dear one's life and career, I can relax and let that plan unfold. God, divine Love, does not take us only halfway. His plan is perfect and complete. Usually it is a plan I couldn't possibly have figured out on my own.

I have been blessed with three wonderful amazing children and they continue to bring so much joy and good into my life. They support and enrich my understanding of motherhood. How awesom it is to understand that God's motherhood is like that. His/Her love for each of His/Her children is ocean's deeper than my human concept. We are cherished. We can absolutely trust in that and never feel that everything depends on our own understanding.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

YOU do it!

This week's Bible lesson, Doctrine of Atonement, gives some pretty clear pictures of Atonement. To Christian Scientists, it's all about the at-one part, not so much about atoning for past mistakes. Included in the lesson is the story of Naaman, a mighty warrior, much loved and respected by his King, family and troops. Naaman was a leper. He was also not of the Hebrew faith. I like this man. He listened to a suggestion from one of his little captives, a Jewish girl now serving his wife. This child must have seen something worthy in her master because she tells her mistress that if he were with the prophet, Elisha, he could be healed. Her mistress passes this information along to her husband. So not only did he pay attention to his wife, he believed the child and acted on this information.

He arrives with all pomp and circumstance, in keeping with his rank, in a fine chariot drawn by horses, accompanied by his servants. Much to his displeasure, he is not greeted with his usual deference. Not only does the prophet not come out and heal him with a flashy healing, he only sends his servant with instructions to go dunk himself in the river, seven times. Naaman does not take this well. He is offended. How often people call for healing through prayer and go away insulted when the practitioner says, "OK, got it, I'll take up the case right away" and hangs up after sharing an idea or two for the patient to work with.

Naaman wanted Elisha to do something, something tangible, in front of everyone. Naaman wasn't expecting to have to do something himself. I don't think this man was used to taking orders. Yet his people truly loved him, addressing his as 'father' and urging him to do what the prophet asked. After all, he would have done something mighty, if that had been required. Wasn't it worth a healing of leprosy to just obey?

Naaman had to turn away from human doctrine, had to change his concept of atonement. One wonders what he thought about as he stepped into the shallow water and dipped himself, seven times. Seven is the number for completeness. By the time he had done this seven times, he must have felt the effects of the healing that was taking place for the Bible says his flesh was now clean and as fresh as a child's.

Next time you feel the need for healing and decide to approach that through spiritual prayer alone, be sure to come to it with the expectation of healing, knowing that even what appears to be serious or even incurable can be made whole. Be willing to do whatever it is God directs. Without arguing or taking offense. You'll walk away rejoicing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More lessons from an eagle

The Bible describes the mothering of an eagle to the way God, divine Love, cares for His children. I wanted to give this more thought. It is found in Deuteronomy 32:11.

The eagle stirs up her nest. The hatchlings have gotten pretty comfortable with their parents bringing them all their meals and protecting them day and night. Why would they ever want to leave the nest? We may get pretty comfortable with our spiritual progress at times. Things are going well, no one is ill, the bills are being paid, we show up for church each week. Why not just keep things the way they are? Because there must be growth and progress. Those little eagles must move forward demonstrating their own strength and progress. There is so much good ahead for each of us. If we don't choose to 'stir things up' on our own, error often finds a way to do it for us.

The eagle fluttereth over her young. As she moves her wings, all the dust and debris in the nest rises up and blows away. But the most wonderful part is that by fluttering above them, she is encouraging them to look up! Up to now, they have existed in that little bowl of a nest. Now they know there is more to the world.

Now that they have been prodded to move about, growing stronger; and to recognize a wider world around them; they are to follow her example and venture out. She does not abandon them, but flies right with them, bearing them up on her own back if necessary.

Divine Love is doing all this for us. No one can force you to give up any of the things you have already understood and demonstrated. You learned how to walk and that cannot be taken from you causing weak ankles or damaged bones. Your love for Truth has led you to witness many healings; for yourself, for those around you, among church members. Each instance should make it easier to rely on God for every human need. He is amazingly wonderful. It is His will for us to have all good. He gives us grace for each day.

Thank you, eagles, for your wisdom and example. Thank you, Father, for loving me unconditionally. Let me be grateful for all the nurturing and provision when I needed it, thank you for the gentle prodding and reminders to 'look up'. Thank you for encouraging me to have a widen sphere of thought and action. Thank you for Your arms underneath, around and encompassing me always. Thank you for showing me how to 'fly'.

Soar and sing

Monday, April 7, 2008

Seeing God face to face

The Golden Text for this week's Bible lesson is taken from Genesis 32:30..."I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." That was Jacob speaking of his experience at Peniel which lead to a new name, Israel. He had prevailed over his personal problems after a night of struggling and prayer. Many of us have experienced times like this. I am asking myself just what it means to 'see God face to face'.

I found some enlightenment by turning to the hymnal. Hymn 51, speaks of God, eternal Mind, as a Potter and man as His noblest work, relected 'face to face.' Hymn 136 soars with the thought: "I yet shall know as I am known and see Thee face to face". When we can know ourselves as God knows us, see ourselves as God sees us we will be free from sin and pain, sickness and despair, lack of any kind. Hymn 181 refers to part of Psalm 91, that great Psalm of comfort and protection. It says that when we look to God, divine Love, for our answers we feel the power that lifts us to that 'secret place' where we see Him face to face. Hymn 374 is all about being grateful as we find the divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. "We thank Thee, Father-Mother, for blessings, light, and grace which bids mankind to waken and see Thee face to face." The effect of seeing God 'face to face' is an understanding that we reflect all that God is, just like the image in the mirror. We can rejoice for by this reflection we are whole, healthy, strong, confident, already having all we need, at peace.

It is interesting to note that all of those hymns were written by Christian Scientist.

I look forward to seeing God 'face to face' this week and learning that my life is His Life expressed.