It's summertime for many Monitor readers. And so, for some, that of course means it's also mosquito time. Yep, time for spraying, swatting, and cursing at those annoying little skeeters, whose sole purpose, it seems, is to wreak havoc on barbecues, hikes, and ballgames. And sometimes just on being outdoors.
Here's my own experience. A few weeks ago, my wife and I went on a two-day backpacking trip into the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. Shortly after starting out on the hiking trail, we were bugged out, literally - ready to return to the car and go home. It was hot and humid. We were drenched in sweat and feeling the weight of our loaded backpacks. And all the while, millions of mosquitoes were buzzing and biting with a vengeance.
Usually, I'm the one who has to prod my wife to keep going when we're in the woods. But this time the tables were turned. Clearly, I was much more annoyed by the mosquitoes than she was.
"How about calling it quits," I said.
"If you're really that uncomfortable, we'll go back," my wife said.
Her compassionate reply relaxed me. It also inspired me to pray. Quietly and humbly, I turned to God. "What is Your will?" I thought. With that, it came to me that I had a choice: I could continue to be afraid of the mosquitoes, thinking of them as an enemy, as evil creatures that had the power to hurt me. Or I could love them. The idea of loving the mosquitoes felt completely natural, like a message from an angel, gently delivered. And this was what I decided to do.
Loving mosquitoes? OK, maybe it sounds crazy. But through studying Christian Science, I have learned that in reality there is no creature that can't be seen to be lovable. Why? Because, as we read in Genesis, "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (1:31).
Now, if God made everything that has actual identity, and it's all exactly like He is - good, spiritual, beautiful, pure, harmless - then there is no reason why we can't love everything that He made. On the basis of this line of reasoning, there are no enemies in God's creation. No villains. In short, we don't need to endure anything bad. We can reason that there is only good to be perceived.
This doesn't mean that all of a sudden I started loving the physical insects that were swarming around us. Rather, my prayer - the thinking I was doing - was radically upgrading my understanding of existence, from a material perspective to a spiritual one.
I had learned that the divine Spirit was the only presence. And I was sure that I was really the offspring of God, spiritual and living under the control of God. This spiritual understanding was heaven, where I could see that "all of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible." That passage is from the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy (Pg. 514).
My newfound spiritual perspective obliterated the fear that something could injure, annoy, or spread disease. I was convinced that everything in God's kingdom is worth loving and appreciating.
Another passage from Science and Health was also helpful in my prayer: "Man [including woman] is incapable of sin, sickness, and death" (Pg. 475). This made me feel sure that no matter what the material circumstance was, my wife and I were God's children. I knew that understanding this spiritual fact could keep us from being uncomfortable, fearful, or angry.
These few minutes of quiet, consecrated prayer had totally rejuvenated me. I was now calm and peaceful, more aware of the glorious nature of God's good power on earth. When my wife and I started back on the trail, I felt like a new man. I was invigorated, excited, relaxed - and best of all, no longer afraid and annoyed, worrying about how the mosquitoes were going to ruin our trip.
And they didn't. We enjoyed two great days in the woods. And when we finished our trek, I didn't have a single mosquito bite mark or welt to show for it. What I did have was a newfound appreciation of, and even a love for - mosquitoes.