Archive for the ‘Christian Science Perspective’ Category

Value that’s not contingent on circumstance   Leave a comment

shutterstock_169062386A woman I know spent her early years wishing she’d never been born. She knew she wasn’t wanted from day one. In fact, even before she was born she was referred to as “Calamity Jane.” Her family situation included mental illness, physical abuse, and alcoholism. As an adult, she still felt trapped by the circumstances of her birth……

Imagine her enormous relief when she read these words in the Bible and glimpsed that they were true: “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). This shows that we are all actually children of God. As such, we inherit the characteristics of our divine Parent: we are spiritual, valued, and whole.

The woman came to realize that God, who is good, loves us unconditionally and that our worth isn’t determined by genes or early childhood experiences. And she saw how recognizing these spiritual facts of our existence enables us to live them. Her life turned around, and instead of falling into the same destructive patterns her parents had, she became productive and successful.

The first line of the Lord’s Prayer shows us that God is “our Father.” In Science and Health, there is a spiritual interpretation of this line: “Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” (p. 16). A life that expresses harmony because our divine Parent is all-harmonious? Wow! Is such a thing possible? Absolutely!

This article by Deborah Huebsch can be listened to or read in The Christian Science Monitor

 

Trusting God, finding home   Leave a comment

P1000710 Our little condo sold before we had found another place to live. While we were able to make temporary living arrangements and borrow a car, the resulting nomadic and uncertain lifestyle felt deeply unsettling to me. As there were no suitable homes in the city available in our price range, an air of hopelessness began to creep in. Discouraged and a bit frightened, I turned earnestly to God in prayer – something I’d found helpful many times before.

I spent hours carefully reading the Bible, pondering what I read, listening for the mental nudge of God’s direction, and acknowledging His loving care for my family and for everyone. These lines from a favorite hymn in the “Christian Science Hymnal brought me great comfort:

Home is the consciousness of good
That holds us in its wide embrace;
The steady light that comforts us
In every path our footsteps trace.

(Rosemary C. Cobham, alt., No. 497)

 

If consciousness is the true expression of home, as the hymn says so beautifully, I saw that my role was to continue to listen for inspiration and trust God’s goodness, and keep that focus in my consciousness. If my thoughts were filled with qualities such as love and gratitude, I wouldn’t have enough mental space left for worry, which is a form of fear. I’ve found many times in my life that the active expression of love, gratitude, and other spiritual qualities results in transformation both of my mental outlook and of whatever experience I’m going through.

As we continued to pray with these ideas, we felt inspired to put in an offer on a particular home, even though we’d previously made an offer on it that had been rejected. This time, however, the offer was accepted and the sale terms were resolved within just a few days; a month later, we moved in. I was touched by how quickly all this happened and felt it was an affirmation of the power of prayer.

To read the full article from The Christian Science Monitor’s A Christian Science Perspective by Jennifer McLaughlin or to listen to it, click here

Prayer beyond words   Leave a comment

P1050983 (1)True prayer isn’t just asking for goodness, love, and peace. It is letting God show us how to live them.

Recently I learned of a strong example of what it means to live consistently with our prayers. Hiroshima, Japan, the first city that experienced having a nuclear bomb dropped on it, flourishes today, beautiful and vibrant. While hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city every year offer prayers, many of its citizens also pray for and are devoted to the elimination of nuclear weapons. In 1949 at Hiroshima’s request the Japanese parliament declared it a City of Peace, which makes it a natural location for the many peace conferences it hosts.

Without a doubt, true prayer involves not just words but the practical expression of goodness, kindness, and love – qualities that prove the sincerity of our prayer. Prayer finds its expression in a change of one’s own heart and in one’s life. It becomes practical when it brings about a change of thought for the better; it’s inseparable from the action that flows from and illustrates that change of thought.

So true prayer doesn’t just remain at the mental or verbal level – it is lived! This may mean that we simply express more patience and goodwill toward others as a result of our prayer, or, as in Hiroshima, prayer may result in taking action that stimulates progress and positive change on a wider scale. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, pinpoints the natural relationship between prayer and working for change. She writes: “In public prayer we often go beyond our convictions, beyond the honest standpoint of fervent desire. If we are not secretly yearning and openly striving for the accomplishment of all we ask, our prayers are ‘vain repetitions,’ such as the heathen use. If our petitions are sincere, we labor for what we ask; and our Father, who seeth in secret, will reward us openly” (p. 13).

 Sometimes we may be tricked into thinking of prayer and action as being on two sides of a room – prayer on one side and action on the other. But prayer and the genuine expression of that prayer – taking form in a greater expression of compassion leading to inspired human actions – are inseparable and stand as one.

As we understand and grow in the expression of God’s goodness in our own lives, our prayers go beyond words to being an effective and powerful force for good.

This article from The Christian Science Monitor by Lyle Young can be  read here

It’s never too late to experience healing   Leave a comment

Otama cliff top +When my daughter was still very young, joint problems developed in one of my hands. As the condition worsened and my knuckles became disfigured, I feared that perhaps it was too late to stop the degenerating process that seemed to have taken root.

As this problem emerged, I became very conscious of a spiritual hunger in me that I had been putting to one side for some years in the face of day-to-day life with school, a career, and then family. But I knew the Bible to be a source of healing, so I turned to the words of the prophet Isaiah and found a comforting message of God’s power to meet our need even when a situation seems beyond hope. Isaiah wrote: “He will not break off a damaged cattail. He will not even put out a smoking wick” (42:3, God’s Word Translation).

I thought of a flower blowing in the breeze until its stem is so weakened that the blossom head droops. And I considered a candlewick burnt until only a single plume of smoke remains to indicate the flame that once had been. These metaphors illustrate what would seem to be past saving. And the tendency may be to hasten the seemingly inevitable – to snap off the head of the flower or to quench the last ember.

But renewal is a reasonable expectation when we understand the healing and saving nature of the divine Spirit, God. ……..

At one point I looked down at the disfigurement and said aloud to myself, “That has nothing to do with me.” Nothing had changed physically, but my understanding of my nature had shifted from a material to a spiritual base. When I looked at my hand, it was as if I were looking at a dark shadow made by “a declining sun.” Unafraid, I knew the shadow was without substance or power to harm and would pass off me.

When I woke the next day, my knuckles were perfectly normal, smooth, supple, and painless, restored to normal color and function – in a word, perfect. And in the many decades since, no such symptoms have ever recurred.

The yearning to understand God, the immortal Spirit, as the source and maintainer of us all reveals what it means to be truly and fully spiritual as God’s creation – including experiencing the beauty, grandeur, and fullness of life that we at all times have every right to enjoy.

In order to read the full article by Michelle Boccanfuso Nanouche from the Christian Science Monitor’s A Christian Science Perspective and follow the transformation of the writer’s thought, click here

Photo credit: Maggie Johnson

Earth Day   Leave a comment

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My Earth Day prayer

Recently I came across the 2015 film “Dare to Be Wild,” which shares the inspiring and unique story of Mary Reynolds. ….. There’s a scene in the film where Reynolds looks out over a desert landscape in Ethiopia that was once green and thriving, and she suddenly imagines it completely filled in again with lush trees and plants. As the scene shifts to reflect her vision, I was reminded of a prophecy in the Bible, in the book of Isaiah. It says: “Thirsty deserts will be glad; barren lands will celebrate and blossom with flowers. Deserts will bloom everywhere and sing joyful songs.… Everyone will see the wonderful splendor of the Lord our God” (Isaiah 35:1, 2, Contemporary English Version).

Read literally, the imagery presented in Isaiah’s prophecy is something I’m sure most of us would love to see fully actualized. And the beautiful words might inspire us to wonder if the flourishing of our Earth in this way is really a possibility………

I’ve found it helpful to remember that the natural beauty of our planet has its source in the infinite and enduring design of our creator, God, and this design cannot truly be lost or obscured since the divine Mind and its ideas are eternal. “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy illustrates it this way: “Arctic regions, sunny tropics, giant hills, winged winds, mighty billows, verdant vales, festive flowers, and glorious heavens, – all point to Mind, the spiritual intelligence they reflect” (p. 240). Caring for our planet and preserving its natural beauty can seem overwhelming if we simply get caught up in the problems of desertification, pollution, waste management, etc. Fresh possibilities open up as we look to the reality of Spirit and the harmony, beauty, and balance that constitute spiritual creation.

The focus of this year’s Earth Day is to mobilize the world to end plastic pollution. We can each do our part in very practical ways to forward that goal. But we can also mobilize our thought, through prayer, to more clearly see how we all reflect our intelligent creator. Such a clear view of our relation to God can definitely improve human action.

As Isaiah promises, “You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!” (55:12, New Living Translation).

This article from The Christian Science Monitor by Ingrid Peschke can be read in its entirety here

Seeds of Love   Leave a comment

Loving All, Healing Hatred

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Expressing Christly love can begin humbly with a small, tender seed of spiritual perception that we all have the same Father, or origin, the one divine Spirit.

Each of us has the God-given ability to let the seeds of divine Love take root and flourish in our heart – and to help water them in the deserving hearts of others.

 

It’s certainly fulfilling to express love – to give generously, be supportive, and do unselfish things for family and friends. But it can be especially challenging – and especially important – to care for those who are struggling most to feel loved: the unlawful, the unruly, those who are dishonest or cruel. It can be tempting to think such individuals are not deserving of love.

I truly feel, though, that the genuine expression of heartfelt love – love that is derived from the Divine – has the power to permanently heal hatred in whatever form, whether it’s bullying on the playground or some other manifestation of harmful behavior on the larger world stage. “God is love,” the Bible states (I John 4:8)

When faced with evil deeds, we can strive to water the seeds of Christly love in our hearts – neutralizing any sense of revenge or indifference – so that we may more effectively reach out in prayer and compassion to those on whom evil appears to have made its mark. Right there God is seeing His children in their original, spiritual, sinless nature. And we can, too…..

Jesus lived this love with breathtaking boldness. He reached out to the destitute, the social outcasts, and the morally straying to heal them and restore hope and spirituality to their lives. Articulating a new precedent for humanity, he said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44, 45).

In speaking of the capacity of good to triumph over evil, the Bible gives this promise: “The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose” (Isaiah 35:1). Each of us has the God-given ability to let the seeds of divine Love take root and flourish in our heart – and to help water them in the deserving hearts of others.

 

These excerpts come from the article by Laura Clayton in  The Christian Science Monitor’s  A Christian Scientist’s Perspective and you can read or listen to the entire article here.

Universal womanhood   Leave a comment

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, is #PressforProgress. This call for action reminds me of a time when I saw, in a modest way, how each individual can be a part of pressing for, and forwarding, such progress.

 

It was my first time traveling in a particular country where sexual harassment of foreign women was not uncommon. Our group wanted to respect the customs of modesty for women in this country, so even though it was quite hot during that season, we wore clothing that completely covered our arms and legs. Nevertheless, the harassment occurred.

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I have always found prayer to be reliable in addressing challenges, so I turned to God. I wanted to understand more fully the purity of all women and men – a quality that’s part of everyone’s real identity as God’s spiritual idea, or child. In the Bible’s book of Genesis, we read, “Male and female created he them” (1:27).

…..There’s no conflict between these masculine and feminine qualities. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Christian Science discoverer Mary Baker Eddy describes “man” (a generic term for all of God’s children) in part as “the compound idea of God, including all right ideas;…that which has not a single quality underived from Deity” (p. 475).

I was so reassured by this view that God’s pure and perfect creation includes everyone. …..This gave me a conviction that even if someone isn’t being respectful or appropriate, there is a solid basis for a change in course and hope for progress.

We can all take a mental stand for the expression of universal womanhood and manhood in all of us – the right of each man and woman everywhere to express qualities of strength, goodness, and purity. Because that is how we are made!

This article from A Christian Scientist’s Perspective in The Christian Science Monitor by Susan Booth Mack Snipes. To read the full article with the experience she shares, click here

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