A pilgrimage for today: a search for oneness

A Christian Science perspective: Finding a connection with the rest of the world may demand a push out of the comfort zone.

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It was November 2007, and I was on a flight home from Delhi to St. Louis. For eight weeks I’d consumed chapatis, curried rice, dal, and countless cups of chai. I’d ridden through the narrow, moonlit streets of Udaipur on the back of a motorcycle, and on a camel in the desert. I’d come face to face with monkeys, prayed in numerous religious shrines, and bargained with street vendors who knew me by name. Sound glamorous? Hardly!

One year earlier I’d been asked to be a chaperone for this study-abroad trip for college students. I had to think long and hard about why I would leave the comforts of my home and family, take a reduction in income, and go off to India for eight weeks with 21 people I barely knew. Adventure is all well and good, but this was going to be hard work, and it was going to push me so far out of my comfort zone that I wouldn’t know where the boundaries were anymore. Perhaps some of the travelers profiled in a recent Monitor feature on extended travel had similar thoughts.

But there was something deep within me that was urging me to take this trip. I can only describe it as a desire to find my oneness with the rest of the world. I wanted to be able to watch the evening news and feel the borders of my mental tent including more of the world. I wanted to pray more thoughtfully for people everywhere, with real love in my heart for who they are and what their lives are like. I wanted to live among these people and see their beauty and goodness, as well as their challenges and problems, because I believe that all goodness is really one goodness, and anybody’s challenges are everybody’s challenges.

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Is it possible that we all to some degree have this yearning in our hearts? That we sense that we are fundamentally connected as fellow spiritual ideas – as children of God? That we know that we need each other just as numbers are vital to one another? Perhaps that’s why it seems that more people these days are on pilgrimages of one sort or another. Are we seeking ourselves?

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, gave a thought-provoking definition of God as “Mind. The only I, or Us ...” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 591). This definition says to me that we’re all united in the one “Us,” in the one God who is the infinite Mind. Again, it’s similar to the way it is in math. In the decimal system we use, there are only 10 numerals, but used together they can make infinite combinations, all in perfect relation to one another. Are we seeking the understanding of our oneness with the divine Us?

When the plane landed in St. Louis, I was glad to be swept up by my family and taken to Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed potatoes and gravy never tasted so good. But now I also love chapatis cooked on an open flame. There are many problems to solve in India – as there are all over the world – but there is endless love and beauty there, too. I learned in India that our inherent oneness is the solution to these problems. And each step that draws us closer to the divine Us will help us find the answers. So bring on the adventure!

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