Leaving the ghetto

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

A friend asked me if I could pick up three elementary school children she'd met while doing community work and bring them to church.

I was happy to do this. Each Sunday, I drove 12 blocks to pick them up, finding them dressed in their Sunday best and smiling.

Seeing through the eyes of these children, who lived in a poor neighborhood, made quite an impression on me. As we got to know each other, I found that a simple trip to the zoo could become a remarkable event. Baking cookies was a delight to them.

But there was more to it than that.

In addition to having some new experiences in their lives, these children were learning in Sunday School about how much God loved them. And that they could be free from the restrictions on them which dictated that race or economic conditions or family background could limit their enjoyment of life.

One Sunday, instead of driving the usual route to church, I drove along the shore of a lake. When we got to the water, my little companions leaned way over to look out of the car windows.

"Where did the water come from?" they asked.

Was it possible? These children lived only 12 blocks from the lake, and yet they had never seen it!

Then a thought came to me that has been stated many times in different ways: "A ghetto isn't physical; it's mental." And that struck a chord. Limitations come from what thoughts we think, what we give power to in our lives. What's real for us is what we accept about who we are and where we come from. It's our right to know that we are the children of God. That we can't be deprived of the good we possess from Him. When we find out that we come from the divine Spirit, we begin to break free from material limitations. That was why I wanted to take these children to church.

But I realized then that I was living in a mental ghetto of my own. My "logical" reasoning was telling me that I could not pursue a career in theater, which I had always dreamed of - for fear of what my family would think of me.

And yet, Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matt. 6:33). I could not lose out on any opportunity by seeking God. These little children were helping me understand that better. Although I was helping to shepherd them on some new journeys, doing this was also teaching me a valuable lesson about what it means to see beyond the restraints of what the ears and eyes say is possible. Seeing their willingness to accept new experiences - and knowing how this was bettering their lives - I was becoming more willing to see what God, who is divine Truth, was saying was possible for me.

Mary Baker Eddy's words in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" describe something of what this meant to me: "Truth brings the elements of liberty. On its banner is the Soul-inspired motto, 'Slavery is abolished.' The power of God brings deliverance to the captive. No power can withstand divine Love. What is this supposed power, which opposes itself to God? Whence cometh it? What is it that binds man with iron shackles to sin, sickness, and death? Whatever enslaves man is opposed to the divine government. Truth makes man free" (pgs. 224-225).

I ended up leaving the business world altogether and pursuing a career in drama - which has been one of the best decisions I ever made! From that point on, I prayed more and more to see evidence that God had made all Her children - myself included - intelligent, courageous, open-minded, good, law-abiding, and able to know their life-purpose. God guides and shepherds us in our careers, and we see this best when we learn to be faithful and follow His direction.

I feel rich to have discovered in some degree that when we expand our concept of God, and see that God provides unlimited goodness for us and others, we have less stress, fear, hate, and distrust. And more faith in God's ability to guide us.

You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist: www.tfccs.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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