I was serving as girls' counselor at a summer camp for aspiring opera singers. Although the students were expected to study intensively for five weeks in preparation for fully staged, costumed presentations of several operas, the camp provided recreation too. Not far away was a huge, clear lake bordered by dramatic trees. Because of the unaccustomed rigor of studying with professionals from the operatic world, the students found a trip to the lake a great temptation when the pressure began to heighten.
Soon there were complaints about sore throats, colds, and fever. Many trips were made to town for medical treatment and the buying of remedies. Sunburn, insect bites, discomfort, and general illness dominated conversation.
The motive behind the entire camping experience was to provide an opportunity for each student to bring her talent to a higher level. Now, however, many girls seriously doubted that they would be able to sing when the time for the performance arrived.
After a disturbed night, I woke with many of the symptoms that had been so graphically described. My first thought was ''Oh no! Don't tell me I have it!'' Immediately this suggestion was challenged when a familiar Bible verse from Genesis flooded my consciousness: ''And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.'' n1
n1 Genesis 1:31.
''Very good''! What a comforting rebuke that was, countering the downward pull of self-pity and helplessness that was trying to take over my thinking. I began to savor the strength and power of the Biblical affirmation. Of course - whatever our God made is good! Gratefully I turned from the bodily evidence and began to identify myself as the child of a wholly good creator. I had to see disease as a mistake about God's child and put myself back in His care.
With tender assurance Christ Jesus said: ''Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.... Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.'' n2 Jesus proved, throughout his career of healing, teaching, and regenerating, that what God made is indeed ''very good.''
n2 Matthew 10:29, 31.
So what would be included in the ''it'' which was ''very good''? Certainly the purity of purpose shown by the groups and individuals who had made it possible for the young musicians to have this opportunity. The ''it'' of God's creation couldn't include anything destructive, irritating, annoying, poisonous, disease-laden, or dangerous. ''It'' would have to be expressive of good alone.
The claims that wind, weather, and water can cause sickness would deny the allness and goodness of God's creation. But God alone is cause, and He causes only good. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''God is natural good, and is represented only by the idea of goodness; while evil should be regarded as unnatural, because it is opposed to the nature of Spirit, God.'' n3
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pg. 119
It was apparent that each girl was striving to live up to the expectations of her sponsors and camp instructors. The challenge was to bring grace, joy, and originality to each particular role. These were unselfish motives, in accord with good and in harmony with God's laws. There could be no reversal of good when action was unselfishly motivated. Mrs. Eddy states, ''Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action.'' n4
n4 Ibid., pg. 454.
I prayed to realize that all the campers were, in truth, perfect, individual expressions of God and His goodness. This reasoning was based on the spiritual fact of man a / ure and perfect offspring of the one good, intelligent Supreme Being. To conform our thoughts to what we know of God's goodness promotes harmony.
Before I had finished praying in this way I was freed from the debilitating symptoms of illness. And from that day on, the talk of illness resulting from enjoying the lake, annoyance from insects, or damage from the sun began to lessen. Trips to town for treatments or drugs began to abate until the whole unhappy situation throughout the camp had been relieved.
Atmosphere can be seen as the expression of thought, not as an outside enemy force to be grappled with. Identifying ourselves as the child of God, as the recipient of His irreversible goodness, we can gain dominion over our environment. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty. Revelation 15:3