When you're asked to help
A Christian Science perspective.
The other day, the news was full of outrage at large companies and banks. All had a similar theme of someone feeling victimized. I'd spent the morning at my desk going through the daily newspapers and taking some phone calls from people asking me to help them solve problems through prayer. As I looked over the list of things I intended to pray about, I realized that every one of them involved some sort of reaction.
As I prayed, I started with what I understand God to be: the source of all action and of only good. I've also come to an understanding of God as pure divine Love. Putting these facts together gave me a good start: God, Love, is the source of all action. Therefore, every true activity, as the result of Love, must be loving. This gave me a spiritual premise from which to start.
Just then, the substitute postman arrived and was struggling to push a thick batch of mail through our narrow slot. The arrival of the post is a highly anticipated moment each day for our small dog, but the to-ing and fro-ing of the letters heightened her intensity to a new peak. And as I reached to help the mailman from inside, my dog took a mighty chomp at my hand.
We got the mail through, and I assured the startled letter carrier that I was fine. I washed and bandaged my hand and returned to pick up where I'd left off in my prayer. I couldn't help having a good laugh. It seemed my episode at the front door was the dramatization of the work before me in prayer.
When I started to type e-mail messages to people, however, some of the humor was lost on me. My hand hurt and was swelling, and I couldn't type with it. It was clear that I needed to address this injury, and my choice was to pray for myself. I saw I needed to do this, too, before I could be of use to others. I prayed to understand that there really isn't something called "reaction" in divine Love. There is response, though, and that is all that's needed: to respond to the all-pervasive atmosphere of Love, of God.
I prayed to see that, as God's creation, I was part of one harmonious idea, one God-controlled universe. My dear little dog couldn't have a moment outside of that divine atmosphere, nor could I. It is the only atmosphere there is. A psalm describes so well the atmosphere as filled with God when it says: "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:8–10).
I continued this reasoning – that if I go to the mail slot, the atmosphere of Love is there, just as it is everywhere. It is spiritually all I can know and feel. There is no episode of reaction, fear, anger, and so on, in Love. Praying like this for a few moments, I went back to responding to the e-mails. I noticed my hand was now working normally, completely without pain, and was no longer swollen. This gave me great courage and confidence in the prayers I was then praying for others, including the global agitation I'd been reading and hearing about.
I'm continuing to know that man – as the expression of God, including both male and female – is not a reactor but a reflector of all that God's nature includes. Holding anger and reaction at bay, and seeing them as illegitimate claims about our spiritual nature, enables us to express our nearness to divine Love, and to reduce heated unhappiness and the sense of being victimized. Kindness, expectation of good, compassion, courage, patience, calm, spiritual poise, dominion – these are all the spiritual qualities that each of us is entitled to express as God's sons and daughters.
In a poem Mary Baker Eddy wrote titled "Christmas Morn" ("Poems," p. 29), she asked in prayer this of the Christ, the spiritual nature of us all:
Fill us today
With all thou art – be thou our saint,
Our stay, alway.