A Christian Science perspective: On being more watchful, vigilant, and mentally alert.
Eagles have always been known for their alertness and keen vision. In fact, the United States Marine Corps has been promoting a program called “Eagle Eyes,” which is a way for individuals to report any suspicious activity or behavior in order to hopefully deter, detect, or defeat a potential terrorist attack. Universities in the US, too, use “Eagle Alert,” a system that provides critical information in case of emergencies.
Having eagle-eyed alertness – being watchful, observant, and vigilant – is pertinent to every aspect of our waking lives. Whether we’re walking across the street, driving down a major highway, engaged in a neighborhood watch program, or cooking in the kitchen, it’s vital to be alert and mindful of the task at hand.
Just as important as being alert during such activities, though, is watching our thought. Christ Jesus taught a few of his followers the necessity of this in the garden of Gethsemane just prior to his crucifixion. He sensed a profound need to be watchful and asked his disciples Peter, James, and John to watch with him while he prayed deeply. Soon after this request, they fell asleep, and Jesus said to Peter, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Being vigilant, and mentally and spiritually awake, was needed then, and is still essential to having dominion over temptation and evil today.
But how can we become more alert and mentally vigilant to detect, uncover, and resist harmful thinking, evil ways, and actions in our everyday lives? Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote, “Watch your thoughts, and see whether they lead you to God and into harmony with His true followers” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 213). Watching our thinking involves listening for thoughts that lead us to God, who is good. These include ideas that are good, pure, true, honest, and unselfish – ideas that impel us to do what is wise, just, loving, forgiving, and morally right. Following the golden rule – to do to others what we would have them do to us – following Christ Jesus’ example and his teachings, and trusting in God at every opportunity, solidifies our efforts to be more aware and alert. We are more easily able to watch and to listen for God’s thoughts as we put Jesus’ teachings into practice.
We can also go to God in prayer. Understanding our spiritual nature as God’s offspring, created in His image and likeness – wholly good (see Genesis 1:26, 27, 31) – we can prayerfully acknowledge that qualities such as alertness, watchfulness, and vigilance have their basis in the divine intelligence that is God, and therefore are available to each of us.
Mrs. Eddy refers to man as “... the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity ...” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 475). Therefore, we can claim the truth that we reflect the one, divine Mind – God – and through this understanding can increasingly prove our ability to be fully aware, observant, intuitive, and responsive in every thought and action.
Praying this way has helped me be more alert and listen for God’s thoughts in my own experience. I usually begin my day in prayer to watch my thoughts and see that divine Mind is guiding me. One day I was driving down a major road and approached an intersection with my right turn signal on. Instead of turning, I had the strong thought that I needed to wait and look again to the right. As I did so, a cyclist, previously unseen by me, zipped by my car and went through the intersection. I was so grateful to God for that thought to wait and for my ability to listen for it and act. This seemed to me like an alert message from God, which was good, pure, and true.
This experience, as well as others, shows me that prayer does make a difference. As we each make the effort to listen intently, be aware and observant, and watch our thinking, we will have more eagle-eyed alertness and find that this watchfulness blesses others.