To pass by ... or not
A Christian Science perspective: How a spiritual insight saved a friendship.
Church. Just sitting there. Maybe even enjoying the look of my new sandals when the reading of a Jesus story caught me. Unexpectedly. The one about those who left the wounded man on the side of that dangerous road. Specifically, the man who didn’t (see Luke 10:25-37).
Sure I’d read it, heard it, studied it, told it – yet somehow, at that moment, the idea of passing by on the other side pointed right at me.
David’s familiar words rang true, “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4) – for right then each character’s actions became a rebuke that comforted.
Just as those three individuals reasonably justified their abandoning the wounded man by the side of the road, so I’d nearly decided to pass by a friendship. Unquestionably our mutual loves and goals – such as God, spirituality, laughter, family, desire to serve – were in sync. I’d really come to cherish this generous and amazing woman – yet wondered if our basic ideas about where happiness and good health begin were in sync. And that word “spirituality” – we were definitely not on the same page there.
Then I actually listened to myself and felt both the rebuke, and the comfort. You’d think I had a corner on things spiritual; or knew about true caring – or what another person is thinking for that matter. So Patti, I asked, “What happened to ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ ” (see Mark 12:31)?
Right then I saw – yes, as if a light popped on – that Love divine was/is on both sides of every road, every question. Could there even possibly be another perspective with Love already there, too? Divine Love. Vigilant. Whole. Ready. Delighted, delightful.
And how could I ignore the fact that everyone yearns for answers, ultimately, spiritual answers. Those yearnings became the whole point. Those yearnings unite us, not just my friend and me, but all of us.
So many views of God kind of floating out there, as if waiting to be honored or argued. What spirituality is and isn’t, what God is and isn’t ... but I am convinced that deep genuine yearning to feel a divine presence is at the heart of every opinion, every question. And will prevail.
“We must look where we would walk,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, “and we must act as possessing all power from Him in whom we have our being” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 264). What gentle, yet unmistakable, directing. Staff and rod? It makes me realize I must be more deliberately aware that wherever I walk – mentally or literally – divine Love is already there, lining the path with graceful leading.
Around. Above. Beneath.
Our friendship? Better than ever. Deeper. United by genuine love for God; our love for the colorful, the delightful and creative – and our gratitude for each other.
Feeling God’s presence in a new way, it seems to me, is true holiness in action. And to have an insight take off right in my own Christian Science church – uniting my love for Church with a deepening friendship – reveals Church as not a place, but a presence. A divine presence embracing our lives, whatever side of the road we’re on.