photo from http://csncommission.org/christian-science-nursing/
"I love Christian Science nursing! One of my college jobs was working as a Christian Science nurse’s aide, and many years later, I worked as the administrator for a Christian Science nursing facility.
Over the years, I often thought that because the Christian Science Nurse By-Law is a part of the chapter in the Church Manual on “Discipline” and is part of the Article “Guidance of Members,” (and because I am a member) it must relate to the discipline and guidance of how I practice Christian Science. But how?"
So begins the Christian Science Nursing blog from the new online Christian Science Journal. Click here to read more!
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In the midst of the shock of a friend's suicide or suicide attempt, there is a law of Love that brings comfort, order, and even peace to those who remain.
It is understandable that people are greatly affected by a suicide. It might not be clear why a suicide has happened. Feelings of guilt in the form of arguments "If only I would have done more ...." or anger, helplessness, sadness or exhaustion may come up, and sometimes it might even e frequent and aggressive. Whereas denial or perfunctory prayer may be the route we fall into, it is important that these feelings be recognized and dealt with square on.
A relationship with a friend starts with Love and this Love is what persists and heals. Througout your friendship, and even now, the love for your friend persists.
"Divine Love is never so near as when all earthly joys seem most afar." (1) You are never alone. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength and an insistence to make sense out of what seems senseless. Whereas it may seem the situation is out of control, divine Love asserts its supremacy, helping to lift a false sense of responsibility.
There is no shame in struggling. We need to remember Mary Baker Eddy's life included trauma and personal, physical, financial and social struggles. Each challenge brought new views of God's goodness and love, deepened her resolve, expanded her sense of the infinite nature of God's Truth and Love. Out of that life, came the full revelation of Christian Science, and with that, a more permanent peace, abundant good, and satisfying love.
It is important to realize your connection to God and your connection to others, as well as to your friend. It is as impossible to be separate from God as it is to separate a number from the numeric system. There is one Father, God, and in Him we are forever at one.
You may ask, But what can I do?
Ask yourself - did I love? Your love for your friend is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13:10) and is a direct reflection of God. Your expression of love is like a light. It cannot be hid. It removes darkness. Be assured that your love for your friend had an impact. It brought light. You have done what you should when you love.
The most loving thing you can do for your friend is to see them as God sees them, as made in God's image and light. It is the affirmation of their spiritual qualities that grows and develops the strength for you to move forward with your life. It is a reminder of the meaning that this friendship has. The spiritual qualities you see in your friend are qualities that always stay with you. Humor, intelligence, joy, perseverance and other such qualities - are all ideas that never die, and can never be taken away.
Each of you have a direct relationship to God. Each of you have your own salvation to work out. And we can respect that. We are blessed to have each other on our journeys. But we are not God to our friends. We can rest assured that God is Father -Mother to us all. It is God that guards and guides and directs us. And God is continuing to love, direct, guide and protect your friend in the way that is the most meaningful to your friend.
And finally, love yourself. The aggressive suggestion that this was your fault needs to be put to rest. No false sense of responsibility can blind you to Love's gentle presence now. You can feel this now. And if you can feel this, you know your friend can feel this as well. You can remember how delightful life is. You can remember what gives life meaning and what gave meaning to your friendship. It is allright to cry, to wash away all that which doesn't come from God. And it is allright to feel joy again, to feel happiness and delight. Letting in the joy restores our lives and makes us remember the very essence of friendship.
Your life has been touched by your friend, and will not be the same. You have grown more deeply in compassion, more wise about what matters in life, and more confident in the unchanging nature of Love.
We are never alone. That is the nature of Love and is the great gift of friendship.
1 Miscellany, p. 290
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When I think of God's tenderness and the satisfying feeling I get when feeling God's protection, I think about the times when I have prayed with my sons. I have a mental picture of times when they were both around three years old.
My older son, as a toddler, would gather all his stuffed toys and place them in a circle in the stair's sunny landing. He'd invite me to come and join them and talk about God. I'd find a spot, usually between Rilla the gorilla and the as-yet-to-be-named orangutan, and we would riff on all the many qualities of God...Love, Truth, Spirit. We talked about how good God is, and how God loved everyone. In his little world, he was full of knowing God's safety and Love's ever present joy. In my prayer, I knew exactly the same thing.
In another recurring event, my youngest would sit with me while I did my morning prayer work. He would gather his legos, and plop down on a sunny spot on the carpet, next to me, sitting in the oversized family chair. Feeling peaceful, my toddler son would create and discover new forms with his legos, actively engaged in his work, wordlessly confident that as is well. And I would be praying as he would be playing and I realized that we were both discovering new dimensions of God's creativity and love, actively engaged in knowing that all is well.
A friend once said that there was nothing more satisfying than being in a house of sleeping children. I knew she meant more than just having some quiet. (Although that was always welcome.) But it was more about a reminder that we are all God's children, "cared for, watched over, beloved and protected". (See Christian Science Hymnal, No. 278). Sometimes, it takes a little child to remember what is so naturally known to children, and that persistently applies to all of us.
A song for all of us children:
Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee,
Heir of the ages and child of the day.
Cared for, watched over, beloved and protected,
Walk thou with courage each step of the way.
Truthful and steadfast though trials betide thee,
Ever one thing do thou ask of thy Lord,
Grace to go forward, wherever He guide thee,
Gladly obeying the call of His word.
Healed is thy hardness, His love hath dissolved it,
Full is the promise, the blessing how kind;
So shall His tenderness teach thee compassion,
So all the merciful, mercy shall find.
I was driving the long four hour stretch from Saint Paul to the northwoods in Wisconsin. I noticed the billboards near the open highways. One was selling its space on the billboard with its message: "Here's your sign!"; a hospital advertised its services with the message "Shine!" A bank encouraged people to switch over to their bank with the message "Switch now!" And another billboard promoted the idea of newer larger homes with the message "Think bigger."
I had been praying for months about a certain decision that our family was facing. Although I felt a strong sense of direction in my prayer, there were times that I just wanted a clear and distinct sign as to what we needed to do. Thinking this through on my way up north, I laughed when I saw the first billboard with the message: "Here's your sign!" This was followed by a string of billboard messages that pointed out exactly what we needed to do: "Think bigger" "Switch now" with the results being that we would "Shine!" Too funny. And quite helpful!
Not all my messages from God are written on billboard signs, however. Some messages seem to be quite unlike any kind of message in the conventional sense. So how have I been able to distinguish when a message is from God or when it is just my own will coming through?
In a word, I've been able to distinguish a message's origins by the peace and freshness it produces.
But talking with God is more than achieving an emotion. And God is infinitely more than an imagined behavioural therapist!. Talking with God is about finding your relationship to the source of Life itself. An experience with the divine is more about a humble conviction and a grateful connection. This has come about in my experience in a number of different ways: There are times when I will, as it says in the Bible, "..hear a word behind you saying This is the way, walk ye in it..." (Isa. 30:21) Other times, it will be an intuition, that then grows into a conviction in what direction I need to take. (See Science and Health, p. 298). And then of course, there are the burning bushes - those so obvious neon signs that clearly point out the next steps.
What if you aren't getting a clear sign? This has also happened to me a number of times. When praying and feeling no particularly clarity, I wait. This is a time to reaffirm who God is and who I am in relation to God. God is always present, in all ways. God is infinite Love, and fills all space and I am included in this wide embrace. There is no vacuum. If I need to make a move I do so, acting on my highest sense of right, and trusting that God will continue to guide, correct, or adjust whatever is needed.
These two ideas about prayer have deepened my trust in Love's directing my life.
From the first two pages of Science and Health:
"Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds"
"...the desire which goes forth hungering after righteousness is blessed of our Father, and it does not return unto us void."
Whether we are seeing clear signs, hearing a still, small voice, feeling an intuitive impulse, or simply moving ahead in trusting prayer or being still - God is governing, guiding, protecting and providing. We can trust that.
"In natural law and in religion the right of woman to fill the highest measure of
enlightened understanding and the highest places in government, is inalienable, and these rights are ably vindicated by the noblest of both sexes. This is woman's hour, with all its sweet amenities and its moral and religious reforms." (Mary Baker Eddy from No and Yes, p. 45)
This quote helped me set the stage for celebrating Women's National History Month last month. I participated in a deeply moving gathering of people who shared stories from women from history who changed their lives. This plan was hatched years ago, with my mother, a friend and one of the Sisters from Marywood Spirituality Center up north here and the Sisters from the Spirituality Center graciously agreed to host it.
When the evening event started, there were six of us. We sat around a table and each shared a story from the lives of Rosa Parks, Sister Thea Bowen, Dorothy Day, Tahiri, Mary Baker Eddy and Saint Catherine of Siena and how they inspired us.
What underlying theme tied the whole evening together? Each of the women mentioned expressed uncommon moral courage in breaking new ground for civil rights, human rights, education for women, healing and shelter. But the strength of the vision of each woman gave them an authority that no established system of their time would give them. And it was that authority that then shaped their culture, their nation, their churches and the world.
Where does that authority come from? You've all heard "one with God is a majority." To get this, you really need to understand what we are talking about when we say God: the Almighty, the Infinite, the Creator of the universe. Simply put, God is big. Authority and dominion of God is supreme. So it follows that the more God-based the reform, the more authority it has, and the more its piercing vision plows through resistance and elevates humanity. "There is divine authority for believing in the superiority of spiritual power over material resistance, " writes Mary Baker Eddy. And each woman who felt her calling received that divine authority.
Each woman and the one man at the gathering gave their accounts showing a deep respect for those who stood, many times alone in their calling, to bring healing and comfort to mankind. More profound still, was the uplifting affirmation that each of the historical women's lives showed us: that good is not helpless, that Truth is triumphant and that we can all be a vehicle for progress.
from the Family of Man photography exhibit
What is it like for me to say, “I’m a Christian Scientist” today? Well, every time I have talked with friends or acquaintances, introduced myself, or introduced ideas that I have learned from my practice of Christian Science, it has always been in the larger context of understanding that all of us are Christian Scientists!
OK, that needs some explaining.....
(Read the rest on the new online Christian Science Sentinel at http://bit.ly/HhwGJU.)
(See more about the Family of Man exhibit at http://bit.ly/5x6gKf.)
Oh cuddle divine
arms as big as outer space
trigger sweet release
This haiku was written by Isobel Sally Davis, an artist and kindred spirit I met online. Doesn't it speak to the tender relationship that we all have with God? It reminds me of the term Jesus used when praying to God: "Abba, Father."
Browsing on the internet, I came across this explantion of the word "Abba" from a website called JesusWalk.com:
Jesus and his disciples read Hebrew in the synagogue, but in everyday speech and preaching used a closely related language, Aramaic. In Biblical Hebrew ab is "father." But in Aramaic abbā is a word derived
from baby-language. As the Rabbis said, a small child "learns to say abbā (daddy) and immā (mummy)." In the pre-Christian era the usage of the word broadened so that "... Abbā as a form of address to one's father was no longer restricted to children, but also used by adult sons and daughters. The childish character of the word ("daddy") thus receded, and abbā acquired the warm, familiar ring which we may feel in such an expression as "dear father."
While nowhere in the entire devotional literature of ancient Judaism is abbā a way of addressing God, in
Jesus' teaching and practice, such an expression was the norm. Abbā as a transliteration of the Aramaic word into the Greek, appears three times in the New Testament:
+"'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" (Mark 14:36)
+"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:15)
+"Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.'" (Galatians 4:6)
This explanation helps elevate the relationship we have with our human fathers and lets us see the tenderness, protection and guidance that are the spiritual basis of true fatherhood. And we can take our understanding of God's tender intimacy to see that it applies to everything we do. Because we know of God's love, we can see that love expressed in our relationships to one another. Our relationship to God shows us that we have an intimate connection to what is infinite and that we are at home wherever we are in the universe. The protective and loving embrace of Abba, our Father, can be experienced when we play, when we challenge ourselves or are in challenging situations.
Oh Cuddle Divine! It makes me laugh to say it! We are the loved of Love, wherever we are and whatever we do. And we can experience the divine cuddle in:
Kim C Korinek, CSB
banner photo (c) Micah Korinek; other photos by Gabe Korinek, Kim Korinek, Brad Crooks. Leslie Larsen (c) 2016