From the summit
WHEN an individual leads a life that invites the lowest estimate and brings upon himself the sternest condemnation by others, what lifts that individual to repentance and reformation and earns forgiveness? The Bible tells of a sinful woman (perhaps Mary Magdalene) who approached Jesus as he sat at supper in the home of a Pharisee.1 Drawn to Jesus by her desire for a better life, perhaps feeling deeply that in the Christly love of Jesus she would find forgiveness, the woman bathed his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. The Master, discerning her change of heart, did forgive her. The account illustrates the healing, regenerating power of God, divine Love. Willingness to change and a love for God are what lift us from a behavior pattern that is less than admirable to repentance and reformation. This genuine, heartfelt love for God is always met by the forgiveness and approval of divine Love itself. Speaking of the need to express the love and tenderness of divine Love in healing the sick, Mary Baker Eddy2 says, ``This is what is meant by seeking Truth, Christ, not `for the loaves and fishes,' nor, like the Pharisee, with the arrogance of rank and display of scholarship, but like Mary Magdalene, from the summit of devout consecration, with the oil of gladness and the perfume of gratitude, with tears of repentance and with those hairs all numbered by the Father.'' 3 Here, where it might have been thought that the adoration for Jesus and the desire to love and be loved had come from the depths of despair and self-condemnation, the Discoverer of Christian Science indicates that gladness, gratitude, and repentance came not from the depths but ``from the summit of devout consecration.'' Jesus saw that real love had impelled the adulteress to the Pharisee's house in the first place; her seeking after Christ, Truth, was from her highest sense of divine worship and service. When a situation would bring us to such a low mental position that we can't see a solution, we're lifted to gladness, gratitude, and repentance--a complete change of mental position--through devotion to God, the Giver of all good. There is nothing constructive about wallowing in the mire of speculation as to how we have come to whatever discord plagues us. But humbly working to put off a sense of ourselves as lacking anything, as a victim of circumstances, as sick, sinful, or the cause of another's anguish, helps us to put on ``the robe of righteousness'' 4 and recognize our rightful place as the child of God in His kingdom. This is not to ignore sin--which must be exposed and faced--but to heal it. Our seeking must be from the summit. We must let love for God and our fellow beings raise us to some measure of sincere appreciation for our real selfhood and for the allness and goodness of God. From this higher ground we can see that neither we nor anyone can have any real good denied. It might seem easier sometimes to sink into a mental position of failure and hide under the cloak of false humility or self-depreciation than to stand up with the honesty and true humility that admit of nothing less than a sense of ourselves as pure and perfect, created in God's image. The summit affords us the broadest view. From the vantage point of spiritual understanding we can break through the darkness of mediocrity and depravity (physical and mental) into the sunlight of spontaneity and freedom, qualities of God that are inherent in us as His offspring. When our thoughts are more occupied with what we spiritually perceive to be true of man as the image of God, than with what the material senses would impress upon us, then we're on the path of devout consecration. This path leads to genuine satisfaction and toward blessing for all mankind. 1 See Luke 7:36-50. 2 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 367. 4 Isaiah 61:10.