We don't have to wait

A Christian Science perspective: What can allay the fear of contracting meningitis for those who have taken drugs that may have been contaminated?

A recent headline in The New York Times read “ ‘Worried Sick’: Meningitis Risk Haunts 14,000.” The subhead began “For thousands of people who may have been infected by a contaminated drug, there is little to do but wait and see what happens.”

The idea of spending weeks or months waiting and watching for symptoms of what is considered a life-threatening disease is terrible. Reading the article, my heart went out to the individuals struggling to cope with the news they’d been given. But even more than that, I felt that what was being presented is intrinsically unfair; that a prognosis of impotence and hopelessness is fundamentally wrong.

When Mary Baker Eddy first published the Monitor, it was with the premise that people should be able to access news that is not only unbiased, but also reported with the awareness of the power of what is best in humanity. She wrote of her own experience, “Difficulty, abnegation, constant battle against the world, the flesh, and evil, tell my long-kept secret – evidence a heart wholly in protest and unutterable in love” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 134).

Her protest against human suffering sprang from her experience of divine revelation. Through prayer and healing she had realized the presence of divine Love, and she could no longer be patient with the idea that physical, mental, and emotional suffering is inevitable.

For people like those described in the Times headline – those waiting for a physical condition to play itself out and take them with it – there is more to do than simply wait and see what comes next. It is possible to find in the here and now a power greater than medical predictions and expectations that begin and end with material circumstances.

When I was told by doctors that I had a condition that would make having children impossible and which might lead to more serious disease, I was sad and mad and scared by turns. I also found myself inwardly rebelling against the condemnation of the diagnosis; it felt, in the most basic way, not right. That intuitive protest led me to think more deeply about whether I should or should not tacitly accept an appraisal that offered only a nightmare outcome.

Experience had taught me that there really is more to life than meets the eye. As a child, I had been healed through prayer in Christian Science, and so had become keenly aware of the reality of spiritual power. An earnest desire to know what was most real and true about God’s creation led me again into the heart of prayer; the willingness to set aside how bad things look or feel and actively consider the power of Spirit. In Christian Science, God is defined as incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Soul; an always-with-us abundance of good from which we are never cut off (see Mary Baker Eddy, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 465).

As I recalled these spiritual facts, I became aware of something infinitely larger and more fundamental to my life than the material picture. God, divine Love, became “nearer, dearer, and more real” (Science and Health, p. 239) to me than the sorrow, anger, and fear I’d been caught in. And not long afterward, I found myself free from all the symptoms of that condition. That was 18 years ago. Since then I did have a child, and I never saw a return of the condition.

Rather than “waiting and seeing” whether human error will lead to sickness or death, I think it is right and fair to turn to God. We all have the right to wait on, or attend to, the reality of spiritual power and to see that God’s care is a present possibility. Bigger and more meaningful than a hopeless diagnosis or prognosis is God’s love, embracing and including all of us.

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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.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.