ONE day when I was a small boy my father gave me a glass prism. He showed me how, when sunlight passes through a prism, it reveals colors that actually comprise white light: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. I made a rainbow! Wow! I was amazed (I still am).
Many years later my mother gave me a prism of a different sort-a book. At a time of great turmoil in my life, she handed me Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The author, Mary Baker Eddy, also founded this newspaper among other accomplishments. By holding a spiritual prism up to the light of the Bible, Science and Health takes the Bible's healing message and reveals facts about God, the family of man, and all the truths of spiritual being.
Perhaps the most inspiring idea I've found in Science and Health is the departure from the concept of a manlike, human God who loves and hates, tempts and punishes. Instead, it presents a clear, spiritual view of God as defined by seven synonyms. It says, ''God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love'' (p. 465). Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, and Love. These synonyms reveal specific aspects of God's nature. They are not seven names for seven gods; they are seven names for one infinite God. As the glass prism clearly defines individual hues of light, Christian Science defines God's true nature in terms we can understand.
Having this fresh insight, one can look to God as Mind, and see Him as the source of all creativity, intelligence, and resourcefulness. We can pray to Him as Spirit, our source of energy and inspiration. Soul constantly refreshes our purity, enthusiasm, and joy. Principle provides the conviction that law and order are unchanging. Life guarantees immortality. Truth keeps us conscious of what has substance and value-what's real. Love protects us from all harm.
When praying about some character flaw I'd like to see improved, or a particular world event that's disturbing, or even over a sore throat, I often remember Christ Jesus' words from the Gospel of Luke, ''Behold, the kingdom of God is within you'' (17:21). Remembering the synonyms I might say to myself, ''The kingdom of Mind is within; the kingdom of Truth is within; the kingdom of Love is within-within my consciousness.''
When I was first introduced to Christian Science, I drank heavily, smoked cigarettes, and used illegal drugs. I saw nothing wrong with this because I rationalized that I wasn't really hurting anyone (except, of course, myself). But as I prayed with the above-mentioned seven synonyms for God, my thinking began to change. My concepts of myself improved as my understanding of God improved. I realized that since divine Mind was the only source of my consciousness, narcotics could neither help me nor control me. I learned that Principle produces no harmful cravings (such as for nicotine or alcohol).
In a very short time, each one of the addictions gently fell away. I was free. This healing was in no way accomplished with my own willpower. Through my new understanding of God, I lost all desire to do those things, as I realized they had never once delivered on their so-called promises, and had no power over me. Not only that, I gained a clearer perception of my spiritual identity. This greatly improved my outlook of my own self-worth. And what I learned is true for me is also true for everyone.
Knowing that God reigns within man, Jesus awakened and empowered the thought of people. He freely declared, ''I and my Father are one'' (John 10:30). His Father. Our Father. Today, Jesus' modern followers can, in understanding God, find solutions and healing-be it to a medical challenge, an addiction, a financial problem, a strained relationship, or even a war in a faraway land. We gain the clearsightedness we need to discern our distinct purpose in life.