A lesson from a monkey

A Christian Science perspective.

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Recently publicized activities of a little Rhesus monkey have reminded me how we can see God's spiritual nature expressed universally.

Mani, as the monkey is called, was found injured about three years ago by workers on a mountainous estate in southern India, and was nursed back to health. During that time, she developed a bond with the estate's herd of 75-plus goats. One day and without any training, Mani began to shepherd the goats out to graze.

Estate workers discovered that Mani screamed loudly if danger came near. She searched out any in the herd that wandered off. Some online videos show her pulling down branches so that goats can reach the tender leaves. She even grooms them. And at the end of the day, Mani leads the goats back to the farm. She's been doing this for a couple of years. Estate workers say she requires no help, and this frees up valuable manpower. In addition, the publicity she has garnered draws tourists to the estate.

Thinking of this example of cross-species affection reminded me of a statement by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper. In "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote, "All of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible" (p. 514).

Such a statement harks back to the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, where God pronounces all that He has created as "good." Mani's obvious impulse to be useful to those who cared for her is an example of pure goodness. It's also a reminder that all of God's creatures are actually created spiritually and are meant to express qualities such as the intelligence, strength, love, and order that are identified with Mani. From this standpoint, it's possible to better understand the beauty of the divine creation and to look for evidence of it in the world around us.

This may lead to prayer for the environment and for endangered species. Recognizing that all creation is sustained by divine Love supports peoples' efforts to find intelligent ways to save them. It may also lead to prayer for a specific situation.

I had my own chance to pray for an animal in trouble. A friend called me because a stray cat that she fed regularly was badly hurt, apparently by another animal. My friend had cared for many animals, and she knew that the normal treatment would have been to attach a head protector around the cat's face. She felt it could not be used because of a deep facial laceration. She asked me, instead, if I would pray for the cat.

I don't recall all the details of my prayer, but it included becoming clear in my own thinking as to what really constituted God's spiritual kingdom and the nature of His entire creation as "harmless, useful, indestructible." I was able to understand that the cat, as included in God's spiritual creation, was inseparable from divine Love, always in His care, and that it moved "in the harmony of Science," where it was always safe from danger. I prayed that way until I became convinced that divine Love was governing all, all the time.

In speaking with my friend a few days later, I learned that the laceration had closed completely in one day. The cat was perfectly fine, so much so that my friend had temporarily forgotten that it had happened.

Science and Health also says, "God is the Life, or intelligence, which forms and preserves the individuality and identity of animals as well as of men" (p. 550). Of course, no one would suggest it is smart to climb zoo fences to hug wild animals, or that domesticated animals should be left to fend for themselves in the wild. But as we glimpse the spiritual nature of God's creation, step by step, we will see more clearly that divine Love is the only and true Creator.

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