While housebound during Boston's recent record snowfall, I revisited a biography by Henry Mayer on the life of abolitionist and social reformer, William Lloyd Garrison of Boston.
The book's title, "All on Fire," comes from a characteristically sharp-tongued response Garrison gave to a friend who asked him to moderate his tone. "I have need to be all on fire," Garrison replied, "for I have mountains of ice about me to melt."
Ah, yes, mountains of ice. I've seen them on the side of nearly every road in town. With February's temperatures here likely to hover around freezing, I suspect these sky-high piles will be around for a while.
Even with a fleet of snowplows at their disposal, progress is slow for city workers who run into rock-hard resistance and can do only so much to plow through the mess. They wouldn't mind a heat wave right about now.
The "ice" Garrison needed to melt required years and years of fire.
Some might think his crusade was fired up by what he was so fiercely against. He was an impassioned abolitionist, to be sure. A sense of moral outrage ran throughout his skillfully written speeches and personal letters and the weekly newspaper he published and edited for over 30 years, called "The Liberator." "I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No!" Garrison wrote in its first editorial.
But there was more to the man's indomitable spirit than moral outrage. Look closely as well at his steadfast resolve and self-sacrifice. His outpouring of time, energy, and money, and his willingness to risk his personal safety in order to end oppression came from his deep desire for the freedom and equality that would take its place. It was the love of something unquestionably right and good that stoked the fire of Garrison's emancipation work and kept the revolution going.
That fire still burns.
The deeply felt longing for universal freedom is igniting a new phase of emancipation work for this generation - freedom from what Mary Baker Eddy, the author of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," called mental slavery.
A frame of mind that believes reality consists only of what is seen through human eyes, microscopes, and telescopes, is chained to a sense of existence as strictly material, with all its accompanying anxieties, restrictions, pains, and ailments.
Heeding a cry to liberate humanity from this unhealthy and godless assumption about life, Mrs. Eddy called the world to a radical reform movement - her spiritual discovery of Christian Science - which she had already seen heal the sick and give people a fresh start in life. "Citizens of the world," she wrote, "accept the 'glorious liberty of the children of God,' and be free! This is your divine right. The illusion of material sense, not divine law, has bound you, entangled your free limbs, crippled your capacities, enfeebled your body, and defaced the tablet of your being" (page 227).
The message was loud and clear: Christian Science brings a light that enables us all to see things the way they really are, piercing the sense-based illusion that our bodies control us and that therefore sickness and decline are a sad and inescapable fact of life.
Over time the number of accounts of physical healing has grown as people see what it truly means to be made by God, in the likeness of Spirit, rather than as a failing material being. These healings are stories of self-sacrifice, spiritual-mindedness, conviction, perseverance, confidence, love - the stuff of freedom-fighters. Collectively, they add up to an emancipation movement that the world has been waiting for - loosening the grip of mental slavery.
As I finished reading my book, I noticed a couple of drops of water fall from icicles outside my window. I wasn't expecting that. Melting happens silently, in slow motion, and in many places not in my direct line of sight. What a pleasant surprise.
The scenery that appeared to be frozen isn't anymore.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
II Corinthians 3:17