`WOULDN'T it be wonderful if people would stop arguing; then there would be heavenly peace on earth,'' a sincere Christian woman once said to me. ``And,'' I retorted, ``it would be terribly dull.''
I was sixteen or seventeen at the time and thoroughly convinced that controversy was not only normal but exciting as well. Peace and stillness meant inactivity to me. Algae grow in still waters, I reasoned. Give me a babbling brook, ocean waves crashing on rocky shores, rippling waters revealing life, freshness, continuous renewal. Activity, mental and physical, is exciting.
There's nothing wrong with a desire for the vigor of life, but the way to find it is not through argument, rebellion, or controversy. It is found, I discovered much to my amazement, through individual peace, even stillness.
My teen-age idea that peace is boring was based on a misunderstanding of the nature of true peace. I had wrongly assumed that fresh, lively ideas came about through people's competitive interacting. While people may be the actors, they are not really the authors of good ideas.
Through Christian Science I learned that worthwhile, new ideas come from God, from Spirit. I discovered that there really is only one infinite, all-inclusive God. This one and only all-power is the all-knowing Mind, which is the source of all genuine intelligence, the source of all good ideas. The presence of intelligence proves the presence of God.
Genuine peace is not a comfortable state of dreamy contentment but the result of spiritual stillness, of receptivity to our creator, divine Mind. Perceiving the pure, harmonizing ideas that come from Mind, we feel at peace in the truest sense. And we find solutions to daily needs. ``God gives you his spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies,''1 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. His ideas are always complete, always new to us, always forwarding progress in our lives. They are never dull or stagnant.
It would be irrational for an intelligent God to require His children to thrash concepts through heated argument to discover the truth He is imparting. Stillness, however, is absolutely necessary in order to perceive the idea we need. Worldly thoughts chatter to us constantly, giving opinions on this or that. We must demand mental quietness. Personal opinions pass into consciousness, settle themselves, and claim that they are ours. But we have the right and power to listen to God instead of merely accepting whatever drifts into thought.
This stillness is not an emptying of our consciousness, an elimination of every thought--good, bad, or indifferent. Instead, the Christian listener weighs each thought, rejecting fears, selfishness, sins, or even personal outlines of what would be best. Through the clear perception that divine Mind is the actual and only source of our intelligence, we receive ideas that care for our needs in fresh and appropriate ways.
Active stillness is really another way of describing prayer. Referring to the requirements for prayer, Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ``Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error.''2
Christ Jesus, whose message to humanity is timeless and whose healing works are unparalleled, found that many of the people had closed their thinking to the great news he was delivering, a message that could have answered their deepest longings and provided genuine peace. How receptive are we today to the quiet, healing influence of Christ, God's message blessing humanity? Can we find the answers we need in a mental state of clamor and conflict? It wasn't until the prophet Elijah learned that God was not in violent forces that he was ready to hear ``a still small voice''3 and to fulfill his God-given mission.
Not in the illusions of sensual excitement or in the drama of conflict but in the harmony of spiritual peace and stillness do we discover satisfying, God-inspired activity.
1Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307. 2Science and Health, p. 15. 3I Kings 19:12. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalms 46:10