RECENTLY, I heard someone describe pop psychology as teaching people to "look up at the ceiling and smile." I chuckled with everyone else. But then I got to wondering why so many people respond to such a superficial approach. If anything, it shows that people are looking for answers. And people are looking for reasons to smile!
The willingness to look up and smile in a world that appears to have become mean and nasty may seem like not much more than putting up a good front. But when we are looking up to God, smiling becomes more than empty bravado. An important part of prayer is an attitude of receptivity. When we are receptive, we are ready to receive. In receiving anything, it's natural to look up expectantly and to hold out our hand. And when we receive something that we like, we smile. The smile is an acknowledgment of good. In prayer it says, "Thank you, Father!"
When Christ Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, John's Gospel tells us, he "lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me" (11:41). His thanks acknowledged God's omnipresence and omnipotence. In this manner the prayer "Thank you, Father" becomes a beautiful expression of receptivity and confidence.
Our unqualified acceptance of God's ever-present perfection, harmony, and power lifts our view to the reality of God's wonderful, spiritual creation. We look up mentally-and smile! Nothing prevents us from doing this, really. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear,-this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony" (pp. 323-324). In response to this spiritual urging, the receptive heart whispers ever, "Thank you, Father!" And with this recognition and smile of healing joy, we see the reality of man's-of our-wholly spiritual nature as God's beloved child.
After a grim childhood, a friend of mine found a safe haven with a foster family, where she attended a Christian Science Sunday School. But it seemed that her troubles weren't over. As an adult, she was unhappily married three times. Her third husband disappeared, leaving her and her children with no money and a large financial debt. In this time of great need, she turned to Christian Science and prayed to find a way out of her many difficulties. Her life began to change. She was rapidly healed of a severe physical problem. Soon she obtained a job that would enable her to pay off her debts.
She loved her new job. Then, unexpectedly, the ugly specter of racial prejudice appeared. Things grew so difficult for her that she thought she would be forced to resign. She asked a friend who was also a Christian Scientist if he would pray for her. He agreed, and encouraged her to approach her own prayer to God with joy and gratitude. He urged her to pray for an understanding of the peace, harmony, and healing power of God's loving presence. She realized that in order to sense this wonderful presence of God, her thought would have to be lifted above the limited, false picture of discord and pain. At first, my friend wondered, "How can I lift my thought above something that seems so vicious and painful?"
Of course, when we seem weighed down by pain and the burdens of life, we often feel helpless and lacking in strength. But when we mentally look up to God, His infinite love shows us the harmony and well-being that are already ours. We glimpse God and His creation as completely untouched by material belief. This glimpse of divine Science is God's, Spirit's, own view of existence, which heals error of every sort.
My friend found that the joyous perception of the divine presence lifted her thought. Bigotry was seen to be powerless. With great joy and gratitude she could say, "Yes, Father, thank you!" Soon thereafter all expression of racism was dissolved. This healing was so complete that several of the individuals who had been most antagonistic are today among her dearest friends.