I NEEDED help with splitting the year's supply of firewood. Someone suggested a man whom many in the town thought of as slow and uncoor- dinated, though pleasant-mannered. I went to his one-room house. He said he was willing to work. The splitter we were to use is a powerful hydraulic ram. Operating it takes rhythm, accuracy, and a steady hand. My helper and I would be changing places all day, first loading logs onto the splitter and then operating the lever to activate the ram.
Over the years, the Bible and Christian Science had been teaching me the difference between appearances and reality. To a material, worldly sense of things my helper appeared to be limited by some sort of retardation.
The picture of Jesus meeting the Gadarene came strongly to my thought. Everyone had labeled the Gadarene as abnormal with ``an unclean spirit.'' He had often been bound with chains and had broken them. But when Jesus saw him, he said, ``Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.'' 1 And the man was healed.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Inasmuch as God is good and the fount of all being, He does not produce moral or physical deformity; therefore such deformity is not real, but is illusion, the mirage of error. Divine Science reveals these grand facts. On their basis Jesus demonstrated Life, never fearing nor obeying error in any form.'' 2
Well, we wheeled the splitter in place beside the three cords of wood and started the engine. My helper was surprised when I motioned to him to sit beside the machine to begin working the lever. He hesitated, not quite believing I would trust him with this part of the job. Apparently, he had never before been allowed this sort of responsibility. He practiced tentatively once or twice; then the first stick snorted and banged as it burst in two. A great smile crossed his face.
At first we worked quite slowly. But a confidence grew between us. The rhythm picked up. A grand flow of work seemed to steady us. Our conversation turned to hopeful prospects for his future.
Mrs. Eddy has observed, ``If we were to derive all our conceptions of man from what is seen between the cradle and the grave, happiness and goodness would have no abiding-place in man, and the worms would rob him of the flesh; but Paul writes: `The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.' '' 3
What I knew about my helper's actual, God-created selfhood contributed to progress for me as well as for him. It is a joy to join hands with God, to bring our view of others more into accord with His knowledge of man, which includes only perfection, and to trust in His power and wisdom. Limitations of every sort begin to dissolve as we reflect God's thoughts. Negative expectations as well as widely held beliefs of handicap or blame can indeed be reversed by a thoroughgoing understanding of the truth that man, as God has truly created him, is spiritual and perfect. What a basis for healing! We're realizing the wholeness that is already here, though perhaps temporarily hidden.
Hours later, we were closing in on the last pieces of wood, big ones full of knots. The sun, low on the horizon, stretched out long shadows. Finally the very last piece yielded with a roaring crack. My fellow splitter slowly straightened his back, lifted his head, raised his arms in a wide arc, and said, ``Thank you, God.'' My prayer was also one of gratitude. I had asked, ``Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.'' 4 And He had surely answered.
1 Mark 5:8. 2 Science and Health, pp. 243-244. 3 Ibid., p. 244. 4 Psalms 119:18. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. John 7:24