“Do you people realize what you have here?!”

Like pretty much every other group of people, I guess – Christian Scientists, too, have their “Albert Einstein Stories” – stories that indicate Einstein felt WE were on the right path. I know. The further we get from the actual life and times of Einstein, the more we seem to turn to him as the ultimate authority on… well, pretty much everything, and the farther we seem to get from knowing what he actually thought and believed about stuff.

Ahem. I’m pretty sure OUR stories are true, though. 🙂

Anyway. One of “our” stories says that Einstein once said to a group of Christian Scientists at the end of a Christian Science service, “You people don’t realize what you have here.”  And, whether or not this story is actually true, I can totally imagine Einstein saying it.  And I can totally imagine the circumstances that would lead him to say it.

I had occasion to hear a visitor to a Christian Science Organization meeting once say something really similar. I haven’t often shared this particular story because it’s embarrassing.  In so MANY ways.  And I inwardly cringe every time I think about it. But I think now might be a good time to re-tell it.

Years ago – back when I was a student at a state university – the young woman who was scheduled to conduct our next Christian Science students’ meeting called to ask me if I could do it instead. I was delighted to do so. If I don’t mind saying so, I have a real knack for putting together readings that present a message in a harmonious way. And I’ve always been really good at oral reading, too – I seem to have a natural gift for knowing when to go up with my voice, and knowing when to go down, knowing when to pause, and knowing when to not, and knowing, instinctively, how to bring meaning to the text I’m reading.  But I’d never before had the opportunity to conduct an “org” meeting, and none of my fellow CS students knew I was good at this kind of thing. This would be my opportunity to use some of my gifts, and I was excited about it.

It so happens that our organization had, just the night before, held our annual Christian Science lecture.  It had been a wonderful, funny, inspiring talk given by a man named Harvey Wood – who was most excellent at connecting with college students and sharing Christian Science in a natural way – without aggression, pushiness, or self-consciousness. That night Harvey had been a real hit with the visitors to our lecture, and many of them had left the lecture wanting to learn more about this way of life.

At our organization meeting – the one I was prepared to conduct – we found ourselves with a lot of visitors. Weirdly (but not really) the young woman who had asked me to read for her, suddenly showed up, sat down next to me, and said she could lead the meeting after all. And this is where I made my mistake. Not willing to make a scene, I handed over the books.  Now I had marked the books for myself – I knew where all the arrows went, knew what my little codes meant, knew how to read these passages with meaning and the emphasis I needed. The young woman who took the books from me was soon completely lost. She kept shaking her head, and asking me for direction – making it look like I had somehow failed in my attempt to put together coherent readings for this meeting, and totally distracting from the message I’d wanted to convey that night. (Lesson learned. Today if someone tried to pull something like that on me, I would simply say, “No. That’s alright. I’m prepared to read tonight. But thank you for offering.”)

Finally, after a little power struggle and a lot of tangling and tugging of egos, the readings were done. Now it was time for people to talk about their experiences with Christian Science, and ask questions. One of our visitors looked at us – an expression of bewilderment and shock on his face – and asked, “Do you people realize what you have here?!”

It was embarrassingly obvious he didn’t think we did.

Lately, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about that incident.  Once again I’m seeing a tangling and tugging of egos, people letting themselves get distracted from the real purpose of “church,” and bickering and quibbling over things that have nothing to do with that purpose.

Mary Baker Eddy defines “Church” as “The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.” She writes that the “Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting our devils, or error, and healing the sick.”

If something isn’t proceeding from Love, isn’t leading towards Love, isn’t “elevating the race, and rousing the dormant understanding” and isn’t bringing healing to God’s creation – what’s the use of it? Why are we spending time with it? We all – and I’m not just talking about self-proclaimed “Christian Scientists” here – have so much to do right now that’s important and vital to the world – we have healing to do, and love to express – and, in my opinion, anything less than that just isn’t worthy of our time, or worthy of us, as God’s children.

“The vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love.” – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy.

Advertisements

*Seeking a Friend for the End of the World*

My new favorite apocalypse movie is not your typical apocalypse movie.  It does not have the special effects of The Day After Tomorrow, the pyrotechnics of 2012, or the cool walking dead of Zombieland.  There are no earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, or tornadoes.  There’s no frantic panicked rushing around trying to get to some kind of ark or spaceship or underground hidey hole, and at the beginning of the movie we learn that the last ditch attempt of hero-astronauts to stop the asteroid from colliding with earth failed.  But Seeking a Friend for the End of the World has something else going for it…

This movie is about what might happen to  those of us without political connections, or astronaut training, or the hope of being chosen to colonize Mars – should science, technology, and last-minute heroics fail us. What would we do if we knew we only had three weeks until oblivion? How would we use our time? Seeking a Friend for the End of the World takes the approach that  some of us would use those last weeks of life to have meaningless sex, escape into boozy oblivion, and party like there’s no tomorrow.  And some of us would spend those last weeks opening up to, and accepting, the love in our lives.

I know this is going to sound weird – considering that this is an end-of-the-world movie – but it gave me hope.  It made me laugh. It reinforced, for me, what is important in this world – no matter when it might  appear to come to an end.

Love will finally mark the hour of harmony, and spiritualization will follow, for Love is Spirit. ” – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

“…and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.“-  I Kings 19

http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=0tc-kMSnHk4&feature=mv_sr

Spreading the Germs of Joy

I did something today that surprised me, and, frankly, made me a little ashamed of myself.  I am, by nature, a huggy person and a hand-shaker.  But today I found myself – for just a moment – reluctant to shake someone’s hand.

I’d just read a news report that one of the most common ways people catch the flu is through contact with germy hands.  And I bought into it.

Right now the news is full of fear and worry about the flu -we’re told that our fellow humans are walking germ-hosts.  We’re told to avoid human contact with one another. We’re urged to get flu shots, and then told that these vaccines are  only  60% effective against the flu, and might actually cause harm.   It can all be a little scary.

I’m not here to take sides one way or the other on the whole vaccine debate. Do whatever you think you need to do for yourself, in that regard.

But I would like to talk a bit about the “rules” against human contact and … well… simple kindness, I guess.

I had occasion to do a little Biblical research today on the fear of contagion.  There are a whole lot of rules about spreading germs and stuff in Leviticus:

“When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest, or unto one of his sons the priests: And the priest shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean. If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague seven days… Every bed, whereon he lieth that hath the issue, is unclean: and every thing, whereon he sitteth, shall be unclean. And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.  And he that sitteth on any thing whereon he sat that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And he that toucheth the flesh of him that hath the issue shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even.” – Leviticus 13 and 15

After reading these passages in Leviticus,  Jesus’ response to leprosy and contagion (as recorded in the book of Mark) seemed absolutely remarkable to me. Listen to this (from the first chapter of Mark):  “And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.”

Yup, you read that right – Jesus reached out and TOUCHED the man with leprosy! Without fear. Without worry. With kindness and love and compassion.  And against all the rules and dictates of society.

I wanna be like Jesus.

I want to be governed  by love, not fear. I want to heal, not be afraid of being sick. I want to spread the germs of love and hope and human kindness. I never ever want to hesitate to shake someone else’s hand again.  Because that is just no way to live.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear…” – I john 4: 18

“If he (a person)  believed as sincerely that health is catching when exposed to contact with healthy people, he would catch their state of feeling quite as surely and with better effect than he does the sick man’s. If only the people would believe that good is more contagious than evil, since God is omnipresence, how much more certain would be the doctor’s success, and the clergyman’s conversion of sinners.” – from Prose Works by Mary Baker Eddy

“It just doesn’t matter…”

“It matters not what be thy lot

so love doth guide,

for storm or shine pure peace is thine

what e’er be tide.” – Mary Baker Eddy

In the last couple days a scene from Meatballs has been playing in my mind: Bill Murray is giving a pep talk to the campers at a summer camp who are feeling a lot of angst and anxiety and worry because they are about to compete against the rival camp in the annual athletic competition, and they know they’re going to lose. Bill Murray tells them it “just doesn’t matter.”  It doesn’t matter if the other team has more money and better athletes, it doesn’t matter if they lose, and it doesn’t matter if they win. It just doesn’t matter.

Weirdly, that scene really inspires me. 🙂

It just doesn’t matter. All the failures, and screw-ups, the petty rivalries, the jealousy, anger, bickerings, and slights, all the nonsense of our lives just doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things,  We’ll learn from all of it, and progress – and that’s all good. And really, the only thing that matters is the love in our lives – the love we express, the love we share, the love we feel.

I’ve got to get going here – have to get on with my day. I will probably screw-up today at some point. Mistakes will probably be made. And it just doesn’t matter. Because Love will be there, no matter what else befalls…

I love you!

Depression and Rebirth in the Wilderness

Dear friend –

I know you’re going through a rough patch right now. But I’m here to tell you – you WILL get through this. You are experiencing your rebirth. It might not be without pain, but, trust me, when you come out on the other side – and you WILL come out on the other side – you will realize that it was all worth it – all of it.  At some point you’ll begin to recognize that the pain doesn’t last forever.  Just as in childbirth, the pain will come in waves – accept it, sit in it, don’t try to fight it, learn what you need to learn from it . And  just as in childbirth, the pain will recede – but it won’t leave you where it found you – it’ll push you closer to your own rebirth.

You will come to  realize that right where there is uglines, unfairness, and injustice – in that exact same place and time – there is incredible beauty and good and kindness.

You’ll realize that even when you’re depressed, you can be happy.

And you’ll realize that there is a purpose for you . So long as you can love, the world needs you – the world needs your kindness and compassion and wonderful, wonderful heart! The world would be a a far lesser place without you in it – believe that!

You are not a failure. You are not a loser. You are not worthless.  In the words of Max Ehrmann, you are a child of the universe and you have a right to be here.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. – Max Ehrmann

WILDERNESS. Loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of being. – Mary Baker Eddy

***

“It won’t do you a particle of good to enter upon a career of self-condemnation. Remorse never got anybody into heaven. A sense of regret and all that sort of thing is not the process. The process is reform; it is change; it is correction…” – Edward A. Kimball

“Evil is never disposed of as thought it were something. It cannot be given up as though it were something… Try to realize that through Christian Science, you are constantly gaining that which will do everything for you, and that you will succeed according to the gaining process.” – Edward A. Kimball

“Above all, do not resent temptation; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for effort nor agony nor prayer. That is your practice. That is the practice which God appoints you, and it is having its work in making you patient, and humble, and generous, and uinselfish, and kind, and courteous… Therefore keep in the midst of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be among men and among things, and among troubles, and difficulties, and obstacles… character grows in the stream of the world’s life. That chiefly is where men are to learn love.” – Henry Drummond

“Sometimes you have to lose your mind to come to your senses.” – Dan Millman

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” – Eckhart Tolle