A Christian Science perspective: "A touch of infinite calm" is accessible to each of us.

It flooded the crimson twilight
Like the close of an angel’s psalm,
And it lay on my fevered spirit
With a touch of infinite calm.
            from “A lost chord
            Adelaide A. Procter, 1825-1864

I came across those lines in Mary Baker Eddy’s work, written in 1900 (“Message to The Mother Church for 1900,” p. 11). Mrs. Eddy, a New Englander, lived from 1821 to 1910. Perhaps it’s not surprising to find she’d quoted Ms. Procter, but suddenly it felt like a beautiful thing: that a 19th-century New England woman – particularly one I love and respect, whose life provides a deep and thrilling measure to my every day – would be quoting her British contemporary. Further digging revealed that Procter’s short book of verse, first published in 1858, went through eight printings, including one in Boston, which suggests the not-so-surprising connection.

Sitting at the organ, “weary and ill at ease,” Procter had struck a chord “like the sound of a great Amen.” Washed over by an “infinite calm,” she wrote that “it quieted pain and sorrow,/ Like love overcoming strife.”

An infinite calm. Too much to ask? Maybe.

Still the more I thought about calm as infinite – everywhere, without limit – the more it felt accessible. Simply present. To have. To share. To feel. To be.

The word “calm” has been described as a period, or condition, of freedom from storms, high winds, or rough activity of water; a state of tranquility.

Wow. Think of it. To be free, entirely free of storm or rough activity. To be perpetually tranquil.

Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If,” much quoted, suggests that if you keep your calm while those all around you lose theirs, you’ve done much. I love that, yet find nothing in his poem that tells me about the “how to.” 

But Eddy does tell me. “[I]n speechless prayer, ask God,” she wrote, “to enable you to reflect God, to become His own image and likeness, even the calm, clear, radiant reflection...” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 150).

And this: “O glorious hope! there remaineth ... peace in Love. The thought of it stills complaint; the heaving surf of life’s troubled sea foams itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm” (“Message to The Mother Church for 1902,” p. 19).

Imagine.

The mere thought of Love divine stilling even deep-seated heavings.

Lacing each moment with grace in deep-settled infinite calm.

And why not. 

In the morning, O Lord,
you hear my voice;
in the morning
I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.
                 Psalms 5:3, New International Version, 1984

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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