An inspiring word

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

QUESTION: WHAT WORD means "loftiness of spirit enabling one to sustain danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, to disdain injustice, meanness, and revenge"?

(Hint: Include this additional definition: "to display a noble generosity.")

ANSWER: magnanimity - "the quality of being magnanimous."

And add this: magnanimous derives from two Latin words: magnus (great) + animus (mind). Hence the root definition: "Great of mind," expressed as "courageous spirit."

That's a lot to take in, but it sure inspires you to consider how essential magnanimity is to character and well-being. Imagine what peace and authority our lives would gain if we were to "sustain danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness." If we were, within ourselves, to "disdain injustice, meanness, and revenge," imagine what peace we could contribute to the lives of people we interact with. And if we were to be "great of mind" in all situations, including those requiring "courageous spirit," imagine how practical and empowering that would be.

Here's a case in point: In 1947, Jackie Robinson was the first African- American to break the major-league "color barrier." The president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, selected him not only because he was a remarkable baseball player but because he also had exceptional inner strength and spirit. Robinson refused to retaliate to merciless name-calling, or to abuse and persecution by fans, teammates, and sportswriters. Instead, he had the greatness of mind and the quiet courage - the magnanimity - to turn the other cheek. He faced down injustice with the noble spirit and grace of nonconfrontation. Baseball and society were changed forever because of his heroism.

We all face adversity. Whatever forms it takes, the Bible assures us that divine help is always at hand. The power that ultimately lifts us up, that calms us and sustains us, that gives us presence of mind and courage in any circumstance, is the divine Spirit, the divine Mind - God. "Blessed are all they that put their trust in him" ... "the Lord sustained me," sang the Psalmist (Ps. 2:12 and 3:5). "To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings," wrote Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor (see "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page vii).

"The sustaining infinite," God, is a living intelligence and divine Principle that is right here with us. It is good itself. And we can rely on the power of good, God, to support us and bring adjustment to any discordant situation. Because we are the very image and likeness of God, we ourselves are inherently spiritual and good. Blessings (calmness, courage, safety, and so forth) are ever present because good is ever present. All we need to do is acknowledge this fact.

For example, one Saturday afternoon my wife called in tears. She and our sixth-grade daughter and our daughter's friend had gone to Madison Square Garden to attend a big sports event. It had been over an hour since the girls had gone to get some refreshments. My wife was afraid. I assured her - and myself - immediately, and with the deepest conviction, that the girls were safe. That they could never for a moment be outside of God's all-powerful, protecting love. For Love is God. The only power. The only presence.

Fear tried to grip me, too, to get me to imagine the worst. But I refused to go there. I stayed with what I knew to be true. I felt the divine Spirit's calming mental influence, the greatness of divine Mind.

I called a Christian Science practitioner (a full-time metaphysician advertising in The Christian Science Journal) to help us pray. Twenty minutes later, my wife called to report that the girls were safe. Though they had promised to return quickly, they had sought out other seats to sit in for the past hour. They themselves had never felt any danger. But they now understood how obedience contributes immeasurably to the spirit of peace, safety, and well-being in the hearts of others.

Everyone has a built-in spiritual capacity to feel God's sustaining power and presence - to express the calm and courageous spirit that knows that God, the great and only Mind, is in control.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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