ONE of the questions I was recently asked at a party was, ''What's your favorite book?'' I chose a children's book I had read to children and given to adults for years. But then I realized that actually there was another book, along with the cherished Holy Bible, I wouldn't want to live without. Second only to the Bible, this book had contributed more to my life than any other book. It had given me deeper insight into the Bible, revealed my relation to God, brought healing, and provided direction. This book is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.
How many times in my life, I realized, I had turned to Science and Health. Students of Christian Science consider it a textbook to be studied, along with the Bible, for spiritual understanding.
Just what makes this textbook second to the Bible? For me it makes the Bible more understandable. My understanding of God and who He is becomes more obvious. I also learn how to follow the instruction of Christ Jesus. When she wrote the book in 1875, Mrs. Eddy said she committed its pages ''to honest seekers for Truth'' (p. xii); also that ''it is the voice of Truth to this age, and contains the full statement of Christian Science, or the Science of healing through Mind'' (p. 456).
I pick up Science and Health and read from it often; it is not unusual for me to read it through several times a year. Each time, I endeavor to have a fresh approach in so doing.
Here is one of the many ways in which it has been of great help to me. Last year I apparently broke a collarbone in a ski accident. I prayed for several days, with the help of a Christian Science practitioner. Often someone who is in need of healing, or spiritual counseling, will call upon a practitioner for help in gaining a more spiritual and inspired perspective on the true nature of God and man. Prayer that brings such a perspective heals, physically and morally. There was physical improvement, including movement of the collarbone back into place, and this came solely from prayer. But complete freedom from restricted movement and continual pain eluded me. So I prayed some more.
Then an inspired thought came: What would it be like to discuss my prayer with Jesus, or with Mrs. Eddy? Both of them healed through prayer alone. They would know what to think and how to pray. Then I thought, ''I turn to the Bible to learn and know Jesus' words. And I turn to Science and Health for the guidance Mrs. Eddy gave in following Jesus.'' So I decided I would like to have a discussion of a sort, through studying the Bible and Science and Health.
I considered St. John's message from the book of Revelation: ''The voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. . . . And I took the little book out of the angel's hand, and ate it up'' (10:8, 10).
To fulfill this call wholeheartedly, I wrote down the questions I had, questions relating to my identity. I set them beside me as I read these books over a four-day period. After that I knew that my questions had been satisfactorily answered, even though I could not at the time have written a scholastic report on each; I felt assured of God's healing power, of His omnipotence, and of His power to bring solutions to every human problem. My hunger for spiritual understanding, and healing, had been satisfied, and I knew a physical healing had taken place. I was able to carry things, and in a very short time I was ready to participate in sports again, including skiing.
No matter what your religious affiliation, Science and Health is a wonderful companion to the Holy Bible. It provides spiritual insight into the Scriptures, from Genesis to the Apocalyptic verses, and shows how these apply to the details of our lives.
I will put my law
in their inward parts,
and write it in their hearts;
and will be their God,
and they shall be my people.