Blessings unexpected

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

In this summer's wonderfully funny and touching movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," there's a hilarious scene in which the bride, coming down the aisle of the Greek Orthodox church with her father, is spat on by dozens of well-wishers. Dialogue in the movie had previously explained that according to their custom, spitting is a sign of blessing, but others in attendance are not so enlightened, and they are horrified.

I can't verify that the movie's assertion is true, but my profession involves extensive reading in the Amharic language of Ethiopia. Amharic is a Semitic language closely related to Biblical Hebrew, and I find that reading passages in the Amharic Bible gives me fresh insights into the Scriptures.

This summer I encountered the word miraq, or "spittle," and saw right above in the dictionary the word merreqe, "blessing." These words are derived from a verb meaning "to give benediction."

This caused me to think deeply about Jesus' healing of a man born blind. The writer of the Gospel of John must have believed it to be of huge significance, because he devoted an entire chapter (chapter 9) to it. Jesus spits on the ground, makes clay, and "anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay."

In Western civilization, spitting is a sign of contempt, and Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, once wrote about this incident: "When, through Mind, he restored sight to the blind, he figuratively and literally spat upon matter; and, anointing the wounded spirit with the great truth that God is All, he demonstrated the healing power and supremacy of the law of Life and Love" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," pg. 258).

As I have understood spiritual healing better, I have come to see that using matter to heal matter, while at the same time trying to spiritualize my thinking, just doesn't work. One has to turn away from matter to acknowledge the All-power of God. But on another level, perhaps Jesus was not only weaning his disciples from matter-dependency but also illustrating God's blessing on the man involved. After all, right before the healing, his disciples asked him who was to blame for the man's blindness. Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." I like to think that Jesus demonstrated God's blessing in a way very tangible to his disciples and the other onlookers. He didn't condemn the man or the man's body; he brought blessing, which resulted in an immediate healing.

This summer I wanted to get an extra pair of contact lenses, so I went to an optometrist. After examining me, he told me that I didn't need another prescription and that my eyes were in good shape. Then, for some reason, he went on to describe in full detail the symptoms of a detached retina and, the immediate danger to sight that this would present.

Just a month before, my sister had told me of her terrifying experience with a detached retina and her painful recovery from emergency surgery. I was grateful to tell her of a spiritual healing I'd had. I don't know if it was of a detached retina, because it wasn't diagnosed. But all the symptoms were identical to what the optometrist and my sister described.

When this happened five or six years ago, I turned immediately to God in prayer. I'd already become accustomed to doing so for all kinds of problems.

In this case, I read the ninth chapter of John's Gospel with interest, and also "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. I knew that right then I needed to get a solid understanding of God's care for me as his child. Mrs. Eddy's use of the word reflection is deeply important in seeing our relationship to God, as these two sentences from page 306 in the book illustrate: "If God, who is Life, were parted for a moment from His reflection, man, during that moment there would be no divinity reflected....

But man cannot be separated for an instant from God, if man reflects God."

I spent a lot of time in prayer, gaining a conviction that I could never be separated from God as His reflection, and nothing that I needed could be separated, or detached, from me. The symptoms disappeared. The healing has been permanent, and so has my heightened confidence that I am never separated from the blessings of God.

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