News reports are full of people's anxieties about swine flu – the H1N1 virus – and a lot of the fear is not so much about the virus as it is about the availability of flu vaccine and fear of the vaccine itself. Some doubt the value of the vaccine; others fear that it hasn't been sufficiently tested. The Monitor's "Why many Americans are wary of the swine flu vaccine" (Oct. 6) covers many of these concerns. There is another form of immunity: a conviction that spirituality and health are more "catching" than illness. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, wrote in one article on contagion: "People believe in infectious and contagious diseases, and that any one is liable to have them under certain predisposing or exciting causes. This mental state prepares one to have any disease whenever there appear the circumstances which he believes produce it. If he believed as sincerely that health is catching when exposed to contact with healthy people, he would catch their state of feeling quite as surely and with better effect than he does the sick man's" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896," pp. 228–229).
This sincere belief in the ability to catch health isn't a kind of mind game. It rests on the spiritual laws that allow anyone to prove the truth of Christian Science. One of its key points is that each of us is spiritual, the perfectly complete creation of God. Spirit – God – never created matter or elements of mortality such as sickness, disease, death, or evil of any kind. The purity of Spirit rules out any such possibility. Purity and disease never mix.
To put this knowledge of our spiritual nature into practice, one can begin by recognizing that health is actually the norm because God's goodness is present everywhere and for everyone. This means it's possible to reject any feeling or thought of sickness or that flu is inevitable. From my own experience of praying along these lines, I haven't experienced flu for at least eight years. Regular prayer and consistent recognition of my identity as being fully spiritual have made this possible.
One other thing that has been extremely helpful for me is maintaining a sense of inner peace that rejects fear of disease. It's possible to do this because divine Love – another name for God – drives out fear. And this Love is available 24/7. If you awake in the night feeling ill, take a few moments to pray to God for His gentle comfort and relief. Should you fear you're coming down with symptoms of flu, pause to claim the spiritual reality and indestructible health that God has given you. This is prayer. Even a few moments of such prayer can bring inner calm and short-circuit the feeling that you need to be sick.
It's useful, too, to remember that the bias of creation is on the side of health and goodness because what God created, He pronounced "very good" (see Gen. 1:31). The divine plan wasn't to have a sickly and pathetic universe but one that would be beautiful and delight in itself and by itself. This actually describes your nature and mine – we are created to be God's delight.
Fear of illness and news reports might try to convince us that flu can take away that delight, or in some way diminish our health and happiness. But these can't be taken from us for even a moment, because we live in God, not in a material body that can become sick. Should there be a time when sickness seems to knock at the door, the book of Psalms has many comforting verses to help us pray, such as this one: "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee [God]" (Ps. 56:3). Trusting in God as our Creator and also our protector from disease is very strengthening. It reminds us that His love really is an all-powerful shield against disease.
We can stand firm on God's love, and maintain our certainty that we are perfect and always in His care. In this way, we will be doing our part in spreading to our families and friends a conviction of health and freedom from vulnerability to disease.