It just kept coming! I was in my yard and noticed some dead wood in a small bush. As I wrestled with the lifeless branches that didn’t want to let go, I was astonished at just how much of it had accumulated in that one tiny bush. But when I cleaned it all out, the bush had more light, more air circulating, and more room to grow.
With discussions about resolutions in the New Year, I think back to that little bush. It has since flourished and now takes up prominent space in our landscaping. It serves as a reminder of how important it is to clean out the old, nonproductive, and negative thoughts that are taking up space in our consciousness. A list of dead wood thinking could include thoughts like resentment, grudges, cynicism, hatred, fear, self-justification, pride, and rumination. Such thinking stifles our inspiration, crowds out new fresh ideas, and hinders our ability to feel and express love – to experience all the joys and fullness of life. But weeding out these old thoughts may feel easier said than done. They may have become so habitual that they feel intertwined permanently into our consciousness and behavior.
This is when I find it helpful to heed the instructions of Jesus, who had healed chronic cases of sickness and sin by lifting his followers out of old concepts of themselves. When a Pharisee named Nicodemus, for example, asked Jesus how he was able to heal, Jesus gave him an answer that at first puzzled Nicodemus; he said, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Jesus clarified that this didn’t mean we reenter a womb, but that we must be born of the Spirit, of God, if we are to emulate his healing works. We must be willing to have our true identity emerge in our thought, be more fully understood and lived – unhampered and unhidden by limited material concepts about ourselves.
To understand ourselves as having a spiritual origin as God’s pure innocent expression of Himself liberates us from the debris of materialistic thought patterns. It lifts us out of burdens, guilt, and harmful thought patterns that are no part of our spiritual nature. Because we actually come from the only real source of all being and intelligence – God, the divine Mind – we have divine authority to overcome the limitations of materiality. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, writes in her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “The exterminator of error is the great truth that God, good, is the only Mind, and that the supposititious opposite of infinite Mind – called devil or evil – is not Mind, is not Truth, but error, without intelligence or reality” (p. 469).
There was a time when I needed to employ this “exterminator” in thinking about a relationship in which I had felt both guilty and victimized. I needed to “clean house” and purge the dead wood thinking that I knew was making me feel hardened and bitter. I found my thought being unnecessarily occupied with hurt feelings. When these feelings often came to thought, I decided to take a spiritual stance – one that saw God as my creator and my Mind, and that Mind is the Mind of Love. This fact helped me root out all the “he-said she-said” arguments I was replaying, and helped me humbly listen for the pure, uncondemning thoughts of the eternal Christ, Truth, which continually speaks to all of us of our divine nature. Recognizing our spiritual origin softened my attitude and restored my sense of innocence, and the personal hurt I had been experiencing was replaced with an awareness of the presence of divine Love, caring for us all.
It took some steadfastness to root out all the stifling thoughts I had been harboring, but I remember distinctly the morning I woke up feeling peaceful and actually happy. Even though the relationship changed, I was completely at peace. I thought about how when you have taken something to the dump, it's very hard, if not impossible, to retrieve it – and you wouldn’t want to take it back anyway. The stifling “dead wood” thinking could not remain entangled in my consciousness. I remember not being able to stop smiling as I felt completely liberated.
If we need to do some cleaning out, let’s do it today. We want to have mental room to see and enjoy the many incredible blessings our Father-Mother God has in store for each of us this year.