Dry Bones or Lively Stones?

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.  And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.  And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. – Luke 19

 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:  if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.  To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,  ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. – I Peter 2

I just finished reading Stephen Gottschalk’s Rolling Away the Stone, which focuses on the last 20 years of Mary Baker Eddy’s life. It was not an easy read for me – it took several weeks to work my way through it – but I found it really thought-provoking. One of the themes that seemed to keep re-appearing was the idea of a “revival” – the idea of stirring up “the dry bones” and bringing new life to our Christian Science experience. Gottschalk quotes Mary Baker Eddy as instructing her student, Albert Farlow to, “…stir the dry bones all over the field, to more words, actions and demonstrations in Christian Science.”

Later Gottschalk writes: “As with other movements after the death of their founder, Christian Science became to a significant degree routinized, in the process losing much of the spiritual animus that accounted for its early growth. The pattern is observable, whether we are speaking of the early Christian church after Jesus, the Islamic movement in the decades after the death of Mohammad, or the Franciscan order after the death of St. Francis. Eddy appears to have anticipated with great apprehension that the Christian Science church, too, would settle down into a kind of bland predictability, when she was no longer on the scene. To her, being a Christian Scientist in any meaningful sense involved not only a strong commitment, but, in a sense, a spirit of adventure.”

Gottschalk writes: “What apparently concerned her the most was the prospect that the church would devolve into yet another ecclesiastic organization, ‘barren,’ to use her words in Science and Health, ‘of the vitality of spiritual power, by which material sense is made the servant of Science and religion becomes Christlike.’… This materialism could, she believed, take on ecclesiastical form. It did so when Christian Scientists, conditioned by their earlier adherence to orthodoxy, failed to break with outworn tradition, ritual, and other merely exterior forms of worship. ‘Long prayers, ecclesiasticism, and creeds,’ she stated, ‘have clipped the divine pinions of Love, and clad religion in human robes. They materialize worship, hinder the Spirit, and keep man from demonstrating his power over error.’”

Whoaaaah, right?

The Christ, Truth, is living, lively, dynamic –  it didn’t die with Jesus. And the Christian Science movement was not meant to stop and flash freeze at the moment of Mary Baker Eddy’s passing, either. I’m sure Eddy would not have wanted this for her movement. “I find the general atmosphere of my church as cold and still as the marble floors,” she wrote, after an appearance at The Mother Church,  “… I did feel a coldness a lack of inspiration all through the dear hearts… it was a stillness a lack of spiritual energy and zeal that I felt.” And, In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook for Christian Science, Eddy writes: “The letter of Science plentifully reaches humanity to-day, but its spirit comes only in small degrees. The vital part,  the heart and soul of Christian Science, is Love. Without this, the letter is but the dead body of Science, –  pulseless, cold, inanimate.”

Life! Joy! Love! Aren’t these the way-marks of the living Christ – the Truth that heals?

***

Jesus was alone

when he rolled away that stone

Pushing back matter –

throwing away the tatters

And we have our job, too

to see what is real

to do what we must do

to rise up and heal

to laugh, dance, and sing

praises to our King

to stir those dry bones

and be joyful, lively stones.

***

(I’m sure Seuss would have done better

at writing this poetry-letter

But he is not here

and you’re stuck with me, I fear.)

Celebrating Spring!

“For lo, the winter is past…The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” – Songs of Solomon 

“Nature voices natural, spiritual law and divine Love,  but human belief misinterprets nature. 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. The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity. Suns and planets teach grand lessons.  The stars make night beautiful, and the leaflet turns naturally towards the light.” – Mary Baker Eddy

Presence is needed to become aware of the beauty, the majesty, the sacredness of nature…You have to put down for a moment your personal baggage of problems, of past and future, as well as your knowledge; otherwise, you will see but not see, hear but not hear.  Your total presence is required.” – from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

***

When spring arrives, I feel my heart start to sing.  I walk out the door and am surrounded by the joy of creation – birds singing, lambs bouncing around in the fields, daffodils bringing their cheery sunshine to the meadows, the smell of newly-mowed lawns and pungent blossoms filling the atmosphere – and it feels like a party, a celebration, a gift.  In the spring,  it’s easy for me to feel the playful, joyous presence of my Father-Mother God, Love.

There’s this great line from Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton) : “Life will find a way.” That’s what Spring feels like to me – like Life is just bursting out all around me, breaking through the winter, clothing the trees with new leaves, unfolding in the blossoms – and bursting out of me, too. There is renewal here. Nothing can stop it. Life is finding its way.

Lately I’ve made a conscious effort to shut out all the dialogue that’s continually going on in my head and just tune in to the sights and sounds of the world outside me  – the birds singing, the whooshing sound the leaves on the trees make, traffic in the distance – and I’m seeing things maybe I never noticed before – individual petals on flowers, the flickering of individual leaves, the changes from one moment to the next – and it’s just amazing the way everything around me is moving in harmony, dancing to some universal rhythm – and everything is where it should be, moving where it should move, filling its own niche, serving its own purpose.

I know many people consider God to be a supernatural being. But I consider God to be supremely natural – the name for all that is good – Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love (synonyms for “God” given in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy). In the spring, it’s easy for me to see evidence of Her everywhere – in the harmony and rhythm of a continually unfolding creation, and in the joy and energy of new life.

For me, springtime represents the constant “newness” of life, a rebirth, an opportunity for new beginnings.

***

Morning has broken

Like the first morning,

Black bird has spoken

Like the first bird.

Praise the singing!

Praise for the morning!

Praise for them springing

Fresh from the Word!

Sweet the rain’s new fall

Sunlit from heaven,

Like the first dewfall

On the first grass.

Praise for the sweetness

Of the wet garden,

Sprung in completeness

Where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight!

Mine is the morning.

Born of the one light

Eden saw play!

Praise with elation,

Praise ev’ry morning,

God’s recreation 

of the newday!

– words by Eleanor Farjeon