Nicolas Cage is spitting mad.
The character he plays in the hit movie, "The Family Man," is trying to get into a New York luxury condo. But Tony, the doorman, won't let him in. No way. He doesn't recognize Cage and doesn't like his attitude.
Cage tries persuasion, bluster - everything he can think of. But Tony knows his job: No strangers without an express invitation from a resident. Cage stomps off, frustrated and defeated.
Oddly enough, the scene came to mind recently when I was sick. "The cold and flu season has arrived!" chirped a morning DJ on the radio, reciting the names of people at the station who were under the weather. That same evening, I could feel myself getting weaker and sicker. "You can add my name to your stupid list," I thought. "It'll be another few days of misery before I can shake this."
Then I remembered Tony. Actually, I thought of Tony right after I remembered something Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, once wrote about dealing with disease: "Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 392). She was clear on the concept that thought governs health. A lazy doorman lets the riff raff into his head. I could listen to the DJ's prediction and allow a cold or flu into my life for a few days. Or I could be like Tony and refuse them entry. Mrs. Eddy continues that paragraph, "... through divine help we can forbid this entrance."
I sat down and took a few minutes to pray. I denied that I was susceptible to these symptoms or that they had any power over my life. I affirmed that a loving God gave no power to anything unlike Himself. These symptoms weren't Godlike. Since God is good and spiritual, then, as His creation, I too, must be completely good and spiritual.
I also knew that the only conclusions I cared to admit were that, as God's likeness, I was strong and healthy. And I could be as tough as Tony when it came to refusing trespassers into my mental domain.
Within minutes, the cold symptoms vanished. That was it. Like Nicolas Cage, they'd stalked off.
It wasn't the first time in my life that standing up to symptoms of sickness was all that it took to see them fade like cheap paint. But it gave me pause. I knew that Mrs. Eddy based her healing work and her writings on the Bible. I wondered what Jesus had said about this subject. I wondered if he had any advice on how I could be a better mental doorman. How do I know which ideas to welcome in, and which ones to show to the sidewalk?
There are several places in the gospels where Jesus taught the need to be vigilant. For example, in the book of Luke (see 12:35-40), he tells a story about a property owner, a lord, returning from a wedding. The diligent servants of the house stay awake and watchful until the lord returns in the evening - even if the lord doesn't get back until the early morning hours.
To me, Jesus was saying that we don't know when a thief might try to break into the house (our consciousness) to steal the lord's valuables (our health, peace, ability to serve a good purpose). By the same token, we don't know exactly when the lord - the awareness of God's power and presence - will return.
In the book of Mark, there's a similar parable about a master returning late. It concludes with this advice: "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (13:37).
Like a good security guard, I want to learn to let into my consciousness only the things that I recognize as Christlike and good. The rest can go away frustrated and defeated.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor