Needed: your head and your heart

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Chicago Cubs pitching ace Carlos Zambrano is learning an important lesson: he needs both his heart and his head. A passionate pitcher, at times he has let his emotions take over, causing him to lose his focus and concentration. But Mr. Zambrano recently acknowledged: " 'It's all about up here,' " pointing to his head. "Then he pointed at his heart. 'It's not here,' he said. 'Have the game in your mind and not in your heart'" (Chicago Sun Times, Oct. 4).

He's still a passionate pitcher. But these words resonated with me because I'm learning that when I pray to God about world problems or for individual healing, I need both heart – or spirit – and head, or letter.

Sometimes my tendency has been to emphasize the spirit over the letter. But I'm beginning to appreciate more deeply how significant the letter is in healing. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote: "Whosoever learns the letter of Christian Science but possesses not its spirit, is unable to demonstrate this Science; or whosoever hath the spirit without the letter, is held back by reason of the lack of understanding. Both the spirit and the letter are requisite..." (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 195).

I think of the letter as the spiritual facts or truths about God and ourselves as His children. Jesus' ministry was filled not only with the spirit but with the letter. Jesus used the letter – his understanding of God and his spiritual reasoning – to defeat evil in all forms. He said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

When the devil sorely tested Jesus right before he began his healing ministry, it was his spiritual reasoning that rescued him. He drew on his understanding of God as it was written in the Hebrew scriptures.

When the devil first tempted him to turn stones into loaves of bread, Jesus responded: "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.' " When the devil tempted him the second time to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple in order to prove God's love and saving power, Jesus retorted: "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" And when Jesus was tempted by the devil the third time to fall down and worship him in exchange for all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, Jesus responded: "Away with you, Satan! for it is written 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him'" (Matt. 4:1-10, New Revised Standard Version).

I learned how leaning on the letter, or spiritual truth, brings healing when I injured my ribs in a mountain biking accident. As I prayed, I felt guided to this passage written by Mrs. Eddy: "Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind, in order to change the notion of chance to the proper sense of God's unerring direction and thus bring out harmony" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 424).

Although I felt this passage was instructive, I dismissed it rather quickly when I wasn't healed immediately. But then a friend recommended I read that same passage. Not feeling the love, or the spirit, I almost refused to revisit the idea that God does not know accidents. But I felt nudged to forget my feelings and think about the sentence again. When I did, I found I was willing to "leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind." As I listened to the one Mind, I saw myself as God's child who never really fell away from Him. That meant I was whole and free. Very quickly, the pain disappeared. I was healed.

Perhaps the love or the spirit will always come first in my life. But like Zambrano, I'm learning not to let the spirit drown out the letter. It's now obvious to me; I need both.

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