Counteracting the flu: make room for health

A Christian Science perspective: God’s ever-presence and love heals and uplifts, comforts and saves.

Last Sunday night, as I walked to the weekly church service at The First Church of Christ, Scientist, also known as The Mother Church, in Boston, the sky was dark and overcast. A foreboding sky. As I approached the church, a line from the illustrated poem “Christ and Christmas” by the Church’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, popped into my head: “O’er the grim night of chaos shone/ One lone, brave star.” Chaotic is a good word for how the world feels right now – media cries of a flu epidemic, Islamist rebels taking over northern Mali, bizarre weather patterns, and more.

So the image of the star’s contrasting light – against the grim picture – was so powerful. To me, that shining light is the symbol of the Christ, the “star in the east” that heralded the coming of Christ Jesus, the promised Messiah. A brave star, indeed. In fact, as I approached the church, I could clearly see the stained-glass window that corresponds to that stanza in the poem. The image is a cloudy sky retreating from a bright white, clearly shining star. What a powerful visual – the grim chaos retreating from the star’s clear light.

I reasoned that God, as all-powerful and all-loving, is in fact bigger and more powerful than any appearance of a “grim night of chaos.” I rejoiced that Jesus already proved – to everyone, for all time – the omnipotence of God and how an understanding of God’s ever-presence and love heals and uplifts, comforts and saves. This understanding is the light exemplified by the star – the light that dispels darkness.

My thought went to another stanza in the poem:

Forever present, bounteous, free,
Christ comes in gloom;
And aye, with grace towards you and me,
For health makes room.

I realized that any worrying – either subtly or overtly – about the flu epidemic was not “[making] room” for health. In fact, if we’re filling our thoughts with doubt, worry, and fear, there’s no room left for the opposite expectation of health, joy, safety, and completeness. Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Common consent is contagious, and it makes disease catching” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 228).

Instead of consenting to fear or worry, we can find health and safety by consenting to God’s all-power, as exemplified in Christ Jesus’ life and illustrated by that clear star. By trusting God, we make room for health and establish a sense of abiding safety for everyone, which brings peace.

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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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