A life that inspires spiritual journeys

Adapted from an editorial printed in the Christian Science Sentinel

A new library will open its doors in Boston this week – The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. It tells the story of the life of the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and the founder of the Monitor. She was an extraordinary 19th-century woman. But she was also very much in touch with ordinary things, even the hard things of life.

She lived in a time when women were expected to stay at home, work hard, raise large families. They couldn't vote, own property, or have custody of their own children.

And here's where Mary Baker Eddy's life was especially arduous – and her triumph all the more remarkable. She was widowed at an early age, her only child sent away by relatives. Her second husband left her penniless, virtually homeless, and in poor health.

At the same time, something extraordinary was happening within Mrs. Eddy. All that she endured triggered an urgent spiritual search. She read the Bible every day, explored alternative cures, and gravitated toward an increasingly homeopathic – and spiritual – approach to healing.

At midlife an accident left her bedbound for several days with injuries. She wasn't expected to live. Desperately turning to her Bible, she had a spiritual insight that changed her so radically and suddenly that she got out of bed, dressed, and astonished her friends by joining them in the next room. As never before, she realized that her life was safe in God. Because God was Life.

She spent the next 45 years laboring to put words to the feeling she had that day, and to how it had healed her. She combed the Bible to learn more about this God who is Life – God who, she now knew, was the only source of health and well-being. She spent years testing the concepts she found in the Bible, by healing people – family members, neighbors, anyone needing help.

The result of all this was the book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," first published in 1875. The book's title was revolutionary. It proclaimed to the world that there was a science to health – a divine Science comprised of provable laws simple enough for anyone to understand.

Year by year, Science and Health grew in popularity. Mary Baker Eddy worked tirelessly at refining it, at stating the "Christian Science" she'd discovered more clearly and directly. She worked indefatigably at publishing the book and its ideas, preaching and lecturing around Boston. She established a monthly magazine – and later the weekly Christian Science Sentinel – to introduce people to the book. Eventually she founded a worldwide church – The Church of Christ, Scientist – to further the message in Science and Health. Finally, in her 88th year, she launched this newspaper.

By the turn of the century, Mrs. Eddy was one of the most famous women in America. Science and Health was reaching millions – and many lives were transformed by the understanding of God the book provides.

And Science and Health remains a bestseller today – over 10 million copies sold. But somehow, over the 20th century, the general public lost touch with Mrs. Eddy. And that's where the Library comes in.

In addition to telling the story of her life, the Library will respond to the public's demand for spirituality. People are on a spiritual quest that pollster George Gallup estimates is "of seismic proportions."

Mary Baker Eddy fervently wanted to respond to the public demand for spirituality. And that's what the Library is about – celebrating the ideas that have moved civilization forward over the centuries. And celebrating her ideas and life – as well as the transforming effect they've had on humanity over the past century and a quarter.

The Library will house one of the largest collections in the world by and about an American woman. Thousands of scholars, ministers, men, women, and children will be drawn there each year. They'll get to know an extraordinary woman – one who was of her times, and yet transcended them. They'll discover her as author, businesswoman, friend of humanity, healer, consummate Christian. And knowing Mary Baker Eddy will hearten and inspire each one of these people in their own spiritual journey, in their own personal search for Truth.

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