Thursday, July 17, 2008

Turn the parade around

There is an incident mentioned in this week's Bible lesson about Life that always moves me. Jesus and a throng of followers are about to enter the city of Nain. They are met with a heart-wrenching sight. Leaving the city is a funeral procession. Jews always bury their dead outside of the city walls. Heading for the cemetary is a crowd of mourners clustered around a grieving woman. This was her a mother who has already lost her husband and now must say goodbye to a beloved son. They must have been a respected and loved family for much of the city has come to be with her. This is a tragedy because without husband or son this woman will be alone and unprotected. Such was the way at those times.

Jesus has an interesting reaction and response. The Bible describes it this way: "And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her." He did more than feel pity at a distance, shaking his head at her misfortunes. He approached her and spoke to her. Hebrew men did not speak to women in public usually. This is what he said: "Weep not." Now what mother would not weep under these conditions. Whatever could he have been thinking. What he was thinking and knowing was soon apparent to all, who must have been able to hear and see what happened next. He leaves her, no doubt being supported by her friends, and turns to the bier. Those carrying it came to a stand still. With all eyes upon him, he speaks to the dead young man, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise." I bet you could have heard a pin drop, or a growing murmur as his words were whispered from person to person. But before anyone could question Jesus, that young man sat up! And Jesus delivered him to his mother. He must have helped him get off that bed of death and handed him into the open arms of his mother.

Can you imagine how that scene changed! From a mourning procession, crying and wailing with grief, the whole party, intermingled with Jesus and his followers reversed direction and headed back into the city with great rejoicing. I'm sure there must have been many questions asked of the disciples as the crowd went back to the woman's house. Jesus completed turned that situation around.

That is what the Christ can do for you today. The active presence of divine Life, Truth and Love can completely turn around some situation you are facing. From the deeply dramatic to the simple everyday things that come up. Whatever it is, we can stop the procession of depressing thoughts, refuse to accept the presence of anything but God's goodness, and find our whole outlook uplifted and joyful. Are you facing a loss of some kind? Does disaster seem inevitable? Stop and wait on the Christ to come to you, this divine Comforter who feels nothing but compassion for you and refuses to leave you in that situation. Jesus restored what seemed gone forever. He had another view of true substance as spiritual and eternal. He understood that Life must express itself without end. Mrs. Eddy writes about it this way in the lesson: "Spiritual man is the image or idea of God, an idea which cannot be lost or separated from its divine Principle." Nothing can separate us from the love of Love.

Try it. Turn that procession around today.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

To Move...or Not to Move

The second section of this week's Bible lesson struck me funny the first time I read it. It begins with an assurance from God that because we put Him first in our lives, we will not be moved. The very next section is about Abraham and what does God tell him? To pack it all up and move! Seems a bit confusing, but there are more ways to move or be moved than one might think.

Abraham was 75 years old at the time. He had devoted his life to honoring God, he was a good man married to the same woman for over 50 years. He had all the material wealth one could ask for. He had property and possessions. He was living in the ancestral home, surrounded by comfort. Yet, God tells him to move. Maybe Abraham was just a bit set in his ways. Maybe he had stopped making any progress or had given up on his heart's desire. When God tells him his is to move to a Promised Land and have great rewards, Abraham, a little hesitantly points out that he has no heir, no one to inherit all of it but his faithful servant from Damascus. With all the things Abraham had, he was without the one thing that mattered most to him, a son. Maybe he needed to 'move' from where he was so settled in body and mind. God assures him that he will indeed have descendants, as many as the stars in the sky or the sand on the shore. So off Abraham goes, taking his 70ish wife with him.

This promised child does not appear for another 20 years. But they were travelling that whole time. Abraham must have continued to grow spiritually through this process. At last, that son is born to them when he and Sarah are in their 90's. I find this very reassuring. They were at an age when such a thing was considered physically impossible...and yet it happened just as God said it would. Those of us who are in our golden years and may not have set aside a nest egg, may be worried that there is not time or opportunity for this to happen. Here is proof that it is. Our supply comes directly from God and is not limited to our physical abililty to earn it or save it. Those of us who face physical challenges connected with a belief of age can see here that all those limits and false beliefs can be set aside. Our youth is renewed like the eagle's, a beautiful story in itself. I wrote about that in one of my earlier blogs.

Mrs. Eddy was in what was considered at least middle aged in the mid 1800's when she discovered Christian Science. She went on to overcome every obstacle in her path as she wrote our textbook, established a church, lecturred in public, healed incurable diseases, opened a metaphysical college, formed a publishing company, edited the periodicals, and created the Christian Science Monitor. She left a substantial estate when she passed on it 1910. This sentence from the textbook appears in this week's lesson about God as Live: "Having faith in the divine Principle of health and spiritually understanding God, sustains man under all circumstances." She should know, she proved that and left Christian Science well established as her gift to the word.

I will be thinking about the ways I might need to be willing to 'move' my thought this week.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Which field are you cultivating?

As I study this week's Bible lesson on Life, I am thinking quite a bit about the above question. It came up at the end of the first section as I read this: "For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." (Gal 6:8) I need to ask myself, as I go through my day, which 'field' I am spending time on, encouraging to grow. Are my thoughts centered around the scenario I see around me in daily life, or do I take time each day to turn my thoughts to God and see myself as living our His plan for me, a good and wise plan from a loving Father who will meet my every human need? No small thing, as it is obvious which crop will be the result.

The Golden Text this week offers much to pray with. It is from Ps 27:1. "...the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" Who do I fear today? What power am I giving that person or thing to harm me or cause me to be fearful? Someone has written that you can define 'fear' as 'Forgetting Everything About Reality'. That is just what we do when we listen to suggestions that predict doom or pain or lack. We forget what is Real. We forget the Allness of God and that it is His good pleasure to provide for us.

So today I am substituting the things that I am praying about for myself and others in that Golden Text....the Lord is the strength of my (health, happiness, supply, eyesight, hearing, purity, right relationships, home); of whom shall I be afraid? I am thinking about reversing fear and expressing instead its opposite; confidence, trust, faith, expectation of good, etc.

You know, you can trust God, who is divine Love. He loves you every minute of every day. He is a very present help in trouble. His arms are always open. Try cultivating that field and see how the 'crop' changes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Remembering vs. ruminating

As I studied this Bible lesson about God one theme stood out, remember. When we are in the midst of some challenge; physical, emotional, financial or even mental, this is good reminder to turn our thought away from the picture confronting us and to focus instead on what we know to be true about God and our relationship to Him.

My generation is faced with the belief of failing memory. Mrs. Eddy has something very specific to say about that: "If delusion says, 'I have lost my memory' contradict it. No faculty of Mind is ever lost." Mind is never absent so man cannot be absent-minded. There is a wonderful article, Sharpening our Spiritual Senses, and in it I love this sentence: "Tn the proportion that we accept the spiritual truth that we can never be separated from all-knowing Mind, human sense of remembering improves."

Some memories, held on to for the wrong reasons, can cause pain and suffering. Some word or deed keeps recurring to haunt us with something someone said or did. Some action that seems unforgivable. It can rankle to the point where it appears physically on the body. It is like a scar. Those memories need to be faced and healed. Forgiveness is not just in words, it must come from the heart. Mortal mind would argue, why should I be the one to straighten this out when he or she caused it. As long as you believe that, the problem remains. Try separating the action from the person, impersonalize it and deal witht the error instead. See that such qualities cannot be a part of God, divine Love, and therefore, cannot be reflected by His image and likeness. This is not part of His creation and cannot touch any of His children. In Greek, forgive means to let go. Holding on to hurts will only impede spiritual progress. Jesus advised Peter to forgive his brother seventy times seven times. By then, surely the hurt should be gone. When you develop a willingness to forgive, you're the one who will be set free.

Other memories need to stay with us. Memories of times when we saw evidence of Love all around us, or glimpsed the beauty and power of God, good. In Christian Science churches there is a service on Wednesdays with time provided to share testimonies of healing. All kinds of healing. Expressing gratitude is part of healing. Acknowledging a power greater than our own was there on our behalf, guarding, guiding and protecting. Remembering your healings or the healings you have heard or read about can give you just the thought you need to handle a present situation.

I was never very good at memorizing passages. But, since I began my study of Christian Science I have found so many things both in the Bible and in Mrs. Eddy's writings that have helped me when I was in pain or distress. I also love the hymnal. Being familiar with the music, the words seem to come back easily and often there is just the idea I need at that time to change my thoughts and move closer to harmony.

Take a quiet moment today to think back on a time when God was a very present help in trouble. Remember how good that felt. Say 'thank you' again. You can rest assured God, divine Mind, is remembering you always.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Continuing with sentence four

This is giving me so many great ideas and truths to work with. Here are the first three sentences from that paragraph on page 495. I will pray all day today with the third one. "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought. Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious - as Life eternally is - can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not.

Let. My grandmother spoke Italian as her first language. To us grandkids she spoke mostly English, but lapsed into Italian on occasion. She used the word 'let' the way I might use the words 'quit it' in moments of exasperation. As in 'let it be' or 'stop doing that'. But she also used it when she wanted us to calm down. Let. Let is go, be at peace. So I always think of her when I see this sentence. Let. I am not ruled by fear or doubt. They have no place in my character or experience. As I study Christian Science I am gaining a deep understanding and the ability to respond to things with trust and confidence. What Mrs. Eddy goes on to describe here as a clear sense and calm trust. She also handles that idea of 'overshadow'. This is important. It is what error is trying to interject. To overshadow means to darken or obscure, to make insignificant by comparison. How many times does that come up each day? Answers hidden away, a feeling of depression, solutions indistinct or imperceptible. Shadows cannot lessen the sun. The sun is still present and shining brightly. Even shadows have to move eventually.

Life is another synonym for God. Life is all about 'being', what is. Always replace 'what if' with 'what is'. This sentence shows how to do that and it is based sqarely on God and His ever present goodness, and His unchanging love for you. Catch just a glimpse of the that and it destroys any sense of pain, physical or emotional. It shows clearly what is not true. And just as clearly what is. Life is good. Your life is good.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

On to sentence two

Yesterday I prayed with the first line of the paragraph in this week's Bible lesson found on page 495 of Science and Health. Today I will work with the second. Here they are. "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought."

You can choose what you are thinking about. When you find yourself ruminating, going over and over the same thing in your mind, you can decided where your focus will be. This sentence is a reminder to keep your thought on God's likeness. So what is God like? Mrs. Eddy gives several synonyms for God, ways to think about what God is and what we are as His very image. Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth and Love. So what we are allowing ourselves to think about God that way. The divine laws that govern the universe in harmony. The divine intelligence that sees everything that it had made and that it is very good. The spiritual senses that give us perfect sight and hearing. The true substance that is spiritual and perfect, without flaws or pain. The vitality and activity of being. The honesty and integrity expressed throughout all of creation. Divine Love that is all-inclusive, nurturing, guiding, protecting, cherishing each of us. As God's likeness, just like the image in the mirror, we can only reflect what is true about the Original. We do not originate anything on our own. So by praying with this sentence we are allowing that likeness to abide in our thought, to see ourselves only as God sees us, to see others only as God sees them, to be seen by others only as God sees us.

This is practical as we can apply it to any situation, any circumstance, and bring about a change in thought that leads to spiritual growth and healing. Try it today and see how easy it is to pray with this idea. Think about how long mankind accepted the idea that the world was flat. It was not flat during that time, but remained whole and round, even though no one understood the truth about it. Once they did, and it could be proved, mankind changed their thought, came in line with what had always been true. The planet did not change, our thought of it had. The planet was never the problem. You were made in God's image and likeness. That is the truth, whether you choose to believe it or not. When you come to understand it, your thought about yourself will come in line with that truth. Wouldn't you rather be the sphere, without beginning or end, than the straight line with a beginning and an end?

Tomorrow we go on to the third sentence. It's pretty powerful. See you then.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

If I only had only paragraph to pray with...

This week we beging the cycle of Bible lesson topics again. Starting with 'God' we repeat the 26 topics Mrs. Eddy established through to 'Christian Science'. This has been going on for over 100 years but each of the lessons is unique. Anyone choosing to read and study them, over time, becomes familiar with the main Bible characters and their qualities. I think this is also true of Science and Health. We become familiar with some of the most powerful and practical truths in it. But they are never just 'same old, same old'. Quite the opposite. When a familiar passage comes up in the lesson, either in the Bible or Science and Healath, if I find myself tempted to just zoom over it, I know that what I really need to do is look at it with fresh eyes, know that I will find fresh inspiration from it this week, expect to get new insights.

If I only had one paragraph to pray with I suppose it would be the one on page 495 of the textbook. It is like a mini treatment and includes all the elements of prayer that lead to healing and spiritual growth. So this week I will share some thoughts as I spend time with it, one sentence per day. This is how it begins: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea."

We are tempted all day long with pictures of sickness, suggestions of sin, illusions that claim something is present that God did not create. The Bible begins with His creation complete and perfect, God seeing everything, everything that He had made, as very good. Everything. Every person, place and thing as very good. Anything presenting itself as something other than good is not part of that creation. Since God fills all space, for all time, there is nowhere for such a thing to exist. So it is not real, it is an illusion claiming to be real. It has absolutely no power or reality unless we choose to believe in it. And the minute we recognize it for what it is, it loses even that illusion of power or reality. It just disappears into nothingness. Immediately. And what had been true all along stands revealed, perfect, completely unaffected by the lie. It was never touched or changed, it was never in pain, or lacking, or unhappy, or confused. It was always very good. Only the illusion was experiencing those things. But in reality they were never present at all.

That 'serpent', that wound itself around the tree in the garden of Eden, spoke to Eve. There were no problems until she listened to what it had to say. And argued with it. And then did what it wanted her to do. But God never created a talking serpent, it was just an illusion. It only had the power to suggest, it couldn't make her disobey or believe in it. And it can't do that to anyone else either. You never had to be controlled by the suggestions of evil or error. It has no real power behind it. It can't inforce anything it says.

So how do you deal with it? Ignore it? No! Turning your back on it does not make it less real to you. Face it and see that it is nothing, just an illusion, just the water that appears to be on the road on a sunny day. It 's not really there. No matter how real it appears to be. You can't go over and touch it. Don't be fooled. Cling. Remain attached. Be like the barnacle. Nothing can loose you or dislodge you from your oneness with God, good. No power on earth. Be steadfast in understanding that. Think of God as divine Mind, all-knowing. And what Mind is knowing is the order and perfection of His creation, including you. You are an idea that divine Mind is holding intact and complete. There is nothing within that idea that is harmful, hurtful or lacking.

There's much more to the paragraph. I can hardly wait to share more tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Good Samaritan, good neighbor

I was sad to hear several stories covered in the news about people who were hurt and no one stopped to help them. In some cases, this resulted in a fatality. This morning's news, for the first time, was balanced with an act of kindness saving someone's life. A girl was on an overnight bike ride through on a trail in a forest when she was attacked by a bear. A guy came by later and found her. He stopped, held her in his arms, comforted her. She was able to hand him her cell phone and he tried 911 twice before calling the ride superviser. He stayed with her until help arrived. She has a long road to recovery but will survive.

I am reminded of the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan. In this story, a man is travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho when he is jumped by bandits who beat him, robbed him, and left him to die. A rabbi and a priest see the man, but choose to pass by. It is a Samaritan who stops to render aid. First of all, Jerusalem is the religious capital of the Holy Lands in Jesus' time. Jericho was their equivalent of Las Vegas. The man was on his way from one to the other. We can draw some conclusions from that. But he certainly did not deserve what happened along the way. We all know people who are headed down the wrong road when disaster strikes. The circumstances are not the issue. Our response to them is.

The rabbi checks to see if it is someone from his congregation. When it is not, he just leaves him in the road and continues on his way. The priest does the same. Both miss a wonderful opportunity to practice what they preach about loving your neighbor as yourself. It is a Samaratin, a member of a despised race, who stops. He is the one who actually lives up to Jesus' command. Notice how he deals with the situation for it is a pattern for us to follow when faced with this kind of thing.

Compassion. He binds up his wounds. A kind word of encouragement, a pause to listen to someone's troubles, the opportunity to restore someone's self respect. The man poured in oil, to soothe, and wine, to cleanse. Those were costly remedies in the East and he gave generously to a stranger. He could have felt he had done enough at that point. But he does more. He puts the wounded man on his own beast, he now has to walk the rest of the way. He brings him to the inn where he is staying. Surely, he could have dropped him off at the local shelter and have done enough. But the Samaritan does more. He must have been a frequent visitor to this place for the innkeeper knows him and trusts him. He leaves the man in their care, paying up front and pledging whatever else will be needed. He will repay it on his next visit.

This was living the law of Love. This is the true sense of binding up the broken hearted. Think how that man must have felt, lying there wounded and ignored. What value he would put on consolation. The Samaritan walked along beside him. Surely today you can find a moment to 'walk beside someone'. You don't have to take them 'home' as in where you reside, but you can take them 'home' into what you are believing about them, what you are thinking. Judge not but show compassion and someday you may be on the recieving end when you need it most. Take care of that person in the sense of knowing that they cannot be separated from God's Love, no matter how many poor decisions they might make. Never fear being generous to others. God has told you "All that I have it thine".

The young man that stopped to help that girl did not know her. He stopped anyway. He did what he could to bind up her wounds and stay with her until help arrived. Then he went his way. We need to hear more stories like that. So many seem Jericho-bound.