I’m no physics expert—far from it! But, I’ve been thinking about centripetal force lately. It’s the force that keeps things moving toward the center. In fact, the word "centripetal" literally means center-seeking. Physicists would tell you that it’s what keeps the planets orbiting around the sun instead of spinning off indefinitely into some far-off corner of the universe.
We see the benefits of centripetal force here on earth, too. For example, it’s what keeps your bottom securely in your seat when you’re riding your favorite loop-de-loop roller coaster at the theme park. Even though your world is momentarily upside down, centripetal force keeps you in place by pulling you toward the center of things, rather than letting you be flung off into the funnel cake stand!
So, what does all of this elementary physics discussion have to do with the practice of Christian Science? Well, this center-focused force is more than just physics; there’s a deeper law working here—a spiritual law. For me, centripetal force is a symbol of the power of God, divine Spirit, causing us to be more acquainted with Him.
In the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy says, “God is at once the centre and circumference of being” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 203). It follows, that God is right here and now, directly in the middle of everything you are, everything you do, and everywhere you go.
God, being the center of all things, His action, like centripetal force, is pulling our attention toward Him. I like to think of it this way: “There is but one real attraction, that of Spirit. The pointing of the needle to the pole symbolizes this all-embracing power or the attraction of God, divine Mind” (Science and Health, p. 102).
The prophet Jeremiah recorded God’s promise of His attracting law when he wrote, “they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:34).
This centripetal-like power is causing our thought to focus on God, Spirit, and therefore, the spiritual nature of things. You may not have labeled it this way, but there is tangible proof that this is happening continuously.
Whenever anyone feels a desire to be better, or to see more good going on around him or her—that’s God. Whenever anyone longs to break free from the burden of fears and limitations—that’s God. Whenever anyone stamps his or her feet and demands to see nothing less than the reign of peace in the world—that’s God, too. These are some of the indications that God is working centripetally to spiritualize our concept of things.
But, what about centrifugal force—you know, the opposite of the center-seeking force? If I were spinning a ball on a string and someone cut the string, that ball would zing off in whatever direction it happened to be going at that moment. But, physicists would tell you, what looks like centrifugal force causing the ball to sail away is actually not a real force at all. It’s merely a reaction to not enough centripetal force to keep the object in place.
Similarly, there's no opposing force that can "cut the string" on our gravitation toward God. In fact, God's action has no opposite. Unlike in physics where there can be an insufficiency of centripetal force, with God, there is always enough. Since He is the center and circumference of our being, He is within and without everything--He fills all space. God and what He has created is all there really is. There is never an absence or lack of anything that God is or does--never a shortage of His centripetal-like power.
So, get on that roller coaster and loop that loop. And while centripetal force is holding you tightly in your seat, you can recognize that God is also holding your focus on Him and the true spiritual nature of all things.
Another thought on centripetal force:
Miscellaneous Writings p. 19
Miscellaneous Writings p. 307
Oh no! What if we’re late to the airport?! It was just one in a series of “oh nos” that had crossed my mind recently. I didn’t want my friend to miss her flight! As often happens though, all that “oh no-ing” wasn’t necessary. Even with the traffic, we made it in plenty of time.
Sometimes solutions to world events, or problems in our own lives, seem impossible. Our racing thoughts can sound like this: Oh no! What if we never see world peace?! Oh no! What about the U.S. Presidential Race? Oh no! I’ll never get this project finished for work! OH NO!
We can either indulge in the “oh nos” or find a better solution. But, how?
The book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament can give us some clues. Even though he lived thousands of years ago, I can see parallels between Nehemiah’s life and ours. He didn’t let a few “oh nos” distract him from his work, and we don’t have to either. Whether you’re familiar with his story or not, it’s a great one to look into.
If it were a play, the first scene would open with the Jewish man receiving word that Jerusalem, the city of his ancestors, is in ruins. OH NO!
But, Nehemiah is used to praying about problems, so he takes his sadness to God. He pours out his heart, acknowledges God’s power and mercy, and trusts God with his next steps.
In the same way, when we have a problem—no matter if it’s a daunting world issue or something worrisome in our own house—we can begin by quieting our fears, or “oh nos.” In this mental stillness we can ask God, divine Love, to help us find just the right solution. Psalm 138 includes a comforting fact: “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me” (verse 8).
Yes, if it concerns you, God’s already on it. As God told the prophet Isaiah, “before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). Similarly, Mary Baker Eddy said, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 494).
The next scene in the story documents divine Love’s answer to Nehemiah’s prayer. It takes place in the palace of the King of Persia, Artaxerxes; Nehemiah is his cupbearer. This particular day, Nehemiah is preoccupied with thinking about Jerusalem’s ruined walls and burned down gates. The perceptive king asks him what’s wrong. Nehemiah worries: What if he doesn’t understand?! OH NO!
But, he takes a deep breath, trusts his prayer to God, listens for God’s direction, and tells the king everything. King Artaxerxes not only gives Nehemiah permission to go to Jerusalem to fix the walls and gates, but offers him timber from the royal forests and letters of protection to take with him on his journey. Nehemiah gets the go-ahead for this great project and thanks God for answering his prayer.
In the study of Christian Science, another name for God is Mind. Every right idea is supplied by divine Mind. We know the right answer because God has equipped us with intelligence to solve any problem that presents itself to us. Even the smallest detail is covered.
The rest of the story has Nehemiah finding the manpower, supplies, and courage to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the wall. Over and over Nehemiah’s enemies, who lived in close proximity to the building project, tried everything to thwart his efforts. They mocked Nehemiah and made up lies about him. OH NO!
But, knowing that the project was provided for by God, Nehemiah and his workers continued on without delay or distraction. At one point, they were working with a tool in one hand and a weapon in the other. Now, that’s determination!
Sometimes when we’re doing our best work, things try to get in our way, too. Our distractions might be an envious co-worker who misrepresents us to our boss; financial difficulties that threaten to delay things; or even worries that we don’t have what it takes to live up to our full potential. OH NO!
But God, being good itself, always has our back. We stick with the ideas from God and keep pushing forward knowing that whatever is backed by Him is complete in every way and is successful up to the very last detail of the work. This fact is our weapon. It can take down any obstacle that would keep us from witnessing all of the good that is present in us, in others, and in the project itself.
Ironically, one of the last tricks by Nehemiah’s enemies is an invitation to meet them in the plain of Ono. If you were invited to distraction and harm in the plain of OH NO! would you fall for it? Of course not, and neither did Nehemiah. He declined the invitation and finished the last detail of the work—putting up the gates.
So, the next time you find yourself taken in by the “oh nos” remember Nehemiah. God was right there to offer solutions for him and his people centuries ago, and the same divine Love is right here today to meet your needs. Circumstances and characters may change, but the constancy of divine Love’s help and divine Mind’s answers are ever-present and universal throughout eternity.
Dominion. You need it.
If you’re feeling like things are out of control in some way, you probably aren’t alone. Between world issues, political issues, and just everyday personal issues, it can seem that everything has gone haywire—completely out of control! But, you have dominion.
Dominion. What is it?
Dominion is control. It’s the right to rule over something that’s weighing you down. When it comes right down to it, it’s the only antidote to feeling out of control.
Dominion. You have it.
The only antidote to chaos, injustice, fear? You really do need it! The good news is: You already have it. That’s right. In the first chapter of Genesis, God gives man dominion over the earth and everything on it. (See Genesis 1:26,27.) There is no problem that can come your way that you don’t already have dominion over. How can I be so sure?
Dominion. It’s from God.
Because God is the only power that exists. Since God is omnipotent, and we are made in His image and likeness, the dominion or control you and I have over any discordant situation is actually His power actively working in our lives. The Psalmist realized this when he wrote about man: “You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5,6 New King James Version).
Dominion. It’s a law.
In the study of Christian Science, one of the synonyms used for God is Principle. When I think of Principle, I think of divine law. The discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, says, “The Principle of Christian Science is divine. Its rule is, that man shall utilize the divine power” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 69).
We get to use God’s power?! Imagine your dad owns the fastest and flashiest sports car around. And guess what? He lets you borrow it whenever you want! No questions asked. Not only that—the gas tank is always full!
It may seem like a stretch, but that’s the way it is with God’s power. It isn’t that God allots us our own power. We are tapped in to His. This fact gives you dominion over anything that would throw you for a loop. It could be news of horrific events halfway around the globe. It could be a disagreement with a friend or family member. It could be an illness that keeps threatening to keep you from work. No matter what it is, God’s omnipotence, including the dominion you’re expressing because of it, is the most powerful thing going on in your life.
Dominion: Use it—it works!
Not too long ago, I took a friend to take her citizenship test. We had been preparing for the interview questions off and on for about two years. She did well, but didn’t pass. She felt she had been unfairly treated in her interview, and from what she had told me, I agreed. We were both devastated. We knew the average waiting time for a second interview was two months. I shared the sad news with another friend and she reminded me that we didn’t have to expect to wait a long time, but that we could see my Spanish speaking friend as a loved citizen in God’s kingdom right then.
The comment reminded me that I had dominion over what seemed to be an unjust situation. I encouraged my friend to stop feeling sad, put her foot down, and tap into the confidence that God was in charge of every detail of her life. It felt good for both of us to stop feeling helpless about what had just happened, and also to stop feeling apprehensive about the second interview.
Dominion. I could feel it.
I felt dominion over any possibility of failure and injustice on our drive down to the second interview just one month later. I knew she felt it too, because she said she wasn’t going to be nervous this time. She passed, and even received her citizenship document at a ceremony the same day. Of course, we were elated!
Dominion. The only possibility.
The next time you’re presented with a disturbing situation on the news, or in your community, or in your own home, exercise your God-given dominion. It’s omnipotence in action—how can you fail?
Entirely separate from the belief and dream of material living, is the Life divine, revealing spiritual understanding and the consciousness of man's dominion over the whole earth. This understanding casts out error and heals the sick, and with it you can speak "as one having authority."
~Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy
I couldn’t take my eyes off of them! From a 3rd floor apartment window in Boston I saw a professional dog walker with nine leashed clients moving down the street as one. The dogs were all unique—small, big, spotted, and plain—but, each one was moving as part of the whole. Their individuality didn’t divide them. Their common purpose united them.
OK, it was only a dog walker and a pack of dogs agreeing to move together from point A to point B. But, with all of the divisiveness reported in the news lately, remembering the unification it symbolized is like a breath of fresh air!
In fact, the unity of the dog walker and his furry friends is a great metaphor for how I think about God and His creation. Like the dog walker, God is always at the center. He’s guiding, correcting, and keeping everything in His one and only spiritual creation operating efficiently and harmoniously as one. Just like those obedient dogs, each of us, unique and individual, has the ability to listen for God's direction, and move along with Him. That’s the reality of things.
However, when we watch the news and hear about the divisions in the world—from political arguments to terrorist attacks—it doesn’t seem like anyone is moving along together at all. But, each day we can catch glimpses of the reality of things—the unity that God is causing and maintaining right here and now. It takes willingness and some diligence not to get taken in with all that seems to divide us, and instead, magnify those moments that unite us.
You know that feeling you get when you let a car cut in front of you in traffic? How about when everyone is on the same page in that business meeting you went to this week? We can actively notice the moments in our day when things just click. They have a rhythm of their own, and it feels good. That peaceful feeling is actually our spiritual sense. It is evidence of the action of God, the infinite and only Mind, working in each one of us and moving us along as one. These experiences point to something spiritual and stupendous in which we're all included.
I’m talking about this: “As an active portion of one stupendous whole, goodness identifies man with universal good” (First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 165). Each of us then, is an integral and good part in God's universe. God is, right now, identifying you, and everyone else, with universal good. This is our true nature as God’s loved children.
Again, no one is left out. It would be impossible for even one of us in the entire world to be outside of infinite good. God, infinite good itself, fills all space. The more willing we are to see this fact, the more opportunities we’ll find to express good and to see it expressed in the world.
Thought by thought, we’ll see that no one can ever be less than an active part of the allness of good. And, just like those dogs who probably had a treat waiting for them at the end of their journey, our reward is a growing understanding that God, the all-powerful good that maintains peace in the world, is present, active, and that each one of us is moving as one with Him.
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, recently said, “It’s very important that we don’t fake unifying, we don’t pretend unification, but that we truly and actually unify…” Of course, he is referring to the need for the different wings of the Republican party to unify. But, it made me think of unity in a deeper way.
One of the most important points in the study of Christian Science is man’s oneness with God, divine Principle. This divine Principle is the law of good that underlies our being. Why is it so important to recognize this unity? Look what it did for Jesus! He said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). Living this truth equipped him with the understanding to overcome things like raging seas, leprosy, paralysis, and even death.
Nineteenth century healer, Mary Baker Eddy, also recognized the importance of man’s unity with God. She said, “The scientific unity which exists between God and man must be wrought out in life-practice, and God’s will must be universally done” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 202).
For both of these healers, unity with God wasn’t a choice. And it isn’t a choice for us, either. We can’t fake this unity with God—just wish that it were true. Our oneness with God is a present and powerful fact that each of us can exercise in our lives today and every day.
I had opportunity to glimpse the power of my unity with God just the other day. I was driving home from a long weekend in Nebraska. I ran into a torrential rain storm, complete with black clouds, wind, lightning and thunder. As I exited onto the interstate and passed through Cheyenne, Wyoming, I suddenly came upon a stretch of road that had already accumulated about an inch of pea sized hail. My car slid, and I lost control. I applied the brakes and hung on to the steering wheel.
In that split second I heard myself say loudly, “God!”
This wasn’t a request for God to come down from “on high” and help me. For me, this one word was an affirmation of all I knew about God and my oneness with Him. This included facts that I think about every day. Things like: Because God is infinite, there is no place where His power isn’t felt. He is my refuge, my safe place. Since He fills all space, He and I can never be separated. I could feel the strength, confidence, and peace that come with the daily living of these truths. The indestructibility of my unity with God was like a shield that kept me safe.
My car went into the ditch and hit some barbed wire fencing, but the damage was minor. I easily backed out and was back on my way in no time. The whole incident took place in a minute or two. During that time, I didn’t feel helpless—I actually felt dominion. That may seem counterintuitive. But, for me, those couple of minutes of dominion over vulnerability go along with a quote by Mrs. Eddy that I know well. “The Principle of Christian Science is divine. Its rule is, that man shall utilize the divine power” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 69).
Wow! That’s a powerful thought! Using God’s supreme power is a rule He has laid down. In other words, our indestructible unity with His omnipotence, gives us dominion over whatever problems may come our way.
That dominion, or my individual expression of the divine power, was what I felt in the car that day. It was right at hand, and it didn’t fail me. I didn’t have to go looking for help, it was already included in my inseparable oneness with the all-powerful divine Principle, God.
Like Paul Ryan, I also say unification is important. And the best news you’ll hear all day is that you’re already at one with the only power of the universe. Acknowledging that fact and living it moment by moment, gives you dominion, too!
"As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being."
~Mary Baker Eddy
I’m convinced! Origami artists are in touch with the Divine. It’s no wonder. In the Japanese language, where homonyms are abundant, the word ori can mean “fold” or “pray,” and kami can mean “paper” or “god,” depending on what characters are used to write them.
I learned this at an Origami exhibit at my local museum. I could feel the artists’ inspiration in their paper sculptures. Some were large and tent-like, made with corrugated cardboard and held together with big rivets. Some were delicate spirals of creased and twisted paper caught inside blown glass spheres.
As I stood in front of a nine-foot long panel filled with rows and rows of folded white paper peaks and valleys it hit me: God causes order to be expressed in tangible ways, here and everywhere, right now. And His order is universal and peaceful.
The revelation that God’s universe is ordered by Him—divine Love—doesn’t just apply to things like beautiful artwork. Divine Love peacefully orders everything going on in the world today. I get it: Peaceful order isn’t always obvious where disorder seems to reign supreme. But understanding God’s, divine Principle’s, infinite nature makes it apparent that His law of universal good must govern every corner of the universe and can be the only law there is. The infinite can’t be or do anything less.
Jesus lived the fact that God’s order is the only law that’s present, and he taught that we can do the same.
What appeared to be limitations had no authority over Jesus. He walked on the water. He healed diseases, which so-called material laws had claimed were congenital, acute, or chronic. He raised himself and others from the dead. These demonstrations proved that the natural and present order of divine law is always operational, even when chaotic material circumstances claim to be the governing power. Like Jesus, we can faithfully and continuously recognize God’s ordered plan—wholeness and goodness for all.
Mary Baker Eddy said of Jesus, “In this simplicity, and with such fidelity, we see Jesus ministering to the spiritual needs of all who placed themselves under his care, always leading them into the divine order, under the sway of his own perfect understanding” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 91).
Divine order in Jesus’ day looked like health, joy, mobility, and freedom. Since God’s law of good is eternal, the result of its operation is the same for us today—wellness, peace, kindness, brotherly love, purity, faith, and so on.
I’m convinced! Artist or not, we can follow Jesus’ lead and see God’s law establishing order in the world. Like the folds on that panel of Origami artwork, God’s order has to be tangible and obvious. Affirming its supremacy and omnipresence is a powerful prayer that goes to the heart of every man, woman, and child. It dissolves illness, hatred, and disorder of every kind. God’s law inspires, and best of all, it transforms.
"Let there be light," is the perpetual demand of Truth and Love, changing chaos into order and discord into the music of the spheres.
~Mary Baker Eddy
Sometimes a problem is not what it appears to be.
That happened to me recently, and it made me think about how Christian Science treatment works.
Here’s the story: When we make a credit card sale in our local Christian Science reading room, we use a little device attached to an iPod touch. Recently, I took the iPod home so my tech-savvy husband could do updates on it. When I brought it back to the reading room and tried to use it again, it said it wasn’t able to hook up to the wireless network. Of course, I tried all sorts of things to rectify the problem—to no avail.
While I was considering what I was going to do, I thought about how the divine Mind, God is the only source of intelligence. Since intelligence is as all-present as God is, the solution must be right at hand. I stopped trying to fix the problem and sat quietly thinking. All of a sudden it dawned on me that another electronic device I had with me that day was also unable to connect to the wireless network in our reading room. Ah-ha!
What appeared to be a malfunctioning iPod was actually the router’s malfunction. The problem never really belonged to the iPod at all, even though it seemed that way. I quickly and easily reset the router, and we were back in business! I guess you could say the iPod was innocent, and the router was the culprit.
This incident is a great metaphor for successful Christian Science treatment. The iPod is like man—innocent, and never possessing a problem at all. Meanwhile, the router is like thought, or more specifically, misconceptions about the real man, which needs to be reset. It isn’t helpful to start with physical symptoms in praying about a problem. We need to start with the correct thought that erases the misconception and its effects.
Why do we address thought instead of physicality?
Because God, the only cause and creator of the universe, is Mind, it follows that we are ideas living in a mental universe. Although we appear to be materially made, we’re really spiritually made; we’re ideas created by divine Mind. So, those physical symptoms, as tangible as they seem to be, are actually misconceptions about our whole and perfect spiritual nature as God’s idea.
In the textbook of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy says, “The Christian Scientist, understanding scientifically that all is Mind, commences with mental causation, the truth of being, to destroy the error” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 423).
So, do Christian Scientists take some psychological view of a problem and try to fix what’s going on in the brain? No. We “commence with mental causation” by affirming God as the one and only thinker, or cause, and naturally conclude that we are the mental and good effect of that divine, spiritual, and perfect cause. Starting with this fact—the truth of being—leads us to the correct view of anyone we know. This correct view is like resetting the router: It destroys the misconception that we, or our loved ones, ever possessed disease, or lack of any kind.
The next time you’re tempted to fix a material body, reset your thought and start with God. Ask Him about how He made you. He’ll tell you about your spiritual perfection, which is tangible and present here and now. Then, just like me with my iPod touch, you’ll be well and back in business!
Thanksgiving Day is long past, but I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. I just finished The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan—a book that a friend recommended. The author writes about her insights and experiences while keeping daily track of gratitude for a year. Every aspect of her life—marriage and family, friendships, work assignments, even body weight—became happier, more fulfilling, more successful, and more balanced. She proved that finding the good in every situation—being thankful—had powerful effects.
It reminded me that gratitude has always played an important role in my life as a Christian Scientist. After all, just three pages into the textbook of Christian Science, author Mary Baker Eddy shares some profound but simple ideas about being grateful. First, she asks, “Are we really grateful for the good already received?” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 3.) She points out that when we acknowledge the blessings we have, it opens us up to receiving even more to be grateful for.
Continuing on she says, “Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech” (Science and Health, p. 3). Gratitude, then, is more than positive thinking, or a fleeting emotional uplift. It’s also more than merely a recitation around a turkey-laden dinner table. It’s really a command; it requires something of us. For example, gratitude for health and strength may lead us to help friends move. Gratitude for abundance might cause us to give to a charity that we’re passionate about. And gratitude for God, divine Love, moves us to prayerfully acknowledge, “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (Science and Health, p. 13). In our hearts, we can be sincerely thankful that everyone has access to God’s unfailing goodness—no one is left out.
Since gratitude moves us to good actions, prayer, and the acknowledgment that God’s goodness embraces everyone, it must have spiritual significance.
Gratitude is the realization that we have access to good 24/7, because its spiritual source is omnipresent God. Gratitude isn’t just a response after something good has worked out to benefit us. Gratitude is a spiritual quality that is present and working within us even when we may not see one thing to be grateful for. Gratitude’s powerful promise of peace is felt by our spiritual sense of things, our divine intuition.
Jesus knew the power of being grateful. There are several examples of Jesus giving gratitude before a need was met. For example, Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died. By the time Jesus found out that Lazarus was sick, and made his way to the town where Lazarus lived, his friend had been dead four days. Jesus asked to be taken to the tomb where the body had been laid, and for the stone in front of the tomb to be removed. Next, Jesus did something surprising. He “lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me” (John 11:41). Then, with great authority, Jesus called his dead friend from the tomb—and Lazarus came out, alive and well.
Jesus proved that the spiritual nature of gratitude was active, transformative, compelling, and powerful. The great thing is, it’s just as powerful in our lives today. The reasons we have to be grateful are right here in our hearts, and those promises of good are tangible and reachable right now.
Janice Kaplan observed, “Because it’s not dependent on specific events, gratitude is long lasting and impervious to change or adversity” (The Gratitude Diaries, p. 14). So true! And because gratitude is impelled by divine Love, no obstacle can get in its way. Neither sorrow, sickness, lack—nor even death—can stop or dilute the power of gratitude. Why? Because it’s spiritual: It has its source in the omnipotent and eternal God.
Now that’s something to be thankful for!
When was the last time you really felt it? It may have been so long ago that you might not even remember. And if you’re 30 or younger, you may not even know what I’m talking about…because you’ve been too busy texting to think about it!
Stillness: What is it?
It’s when you silence your smart phone, shut the cover on your laptop, let your tablet go dark, and, after you do all that, finally stop wondering what you’re missing. It’s about quieting thought.
Stillness: It’s an art.
I recently read a book with that title: The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer. In it, Iyer tells readers, “Researchers in the new field of interruption science have found that it takes an average of twenty-five minutes to recover from a phone call. Yet such interruptions come every eleven minutes—which means we’re never caught up with our lives.” The fact that there is a field of interruption science should show us that we do need more stillness in the world today!
Stillness: Your best defense.
Even animals know it. I walked by a rabbit the other day, and it didn’t move a muscle; it didn’t blink an eye; it didn’t twitch an ear. It knew stillness was its best defense. Stillness is your best defense, too. When your thought is quiet and still you can feel God’s presence. You can hear His voice mentally. It leads you out of distraction or confusion and into just the right decision, or the best relationship, or the most peaceful solution in a harried situation.
Stillness: Where God’s voice is heard.
The Bible tells of the prophet Elijah running for his life from queen Jezebel. (See 1 Kings, chapter 19.) He hid in a cave on the top of a mountain. He didn’t have a smart phone, but the threats of his enemy were definitely a challenge to his stillness. Then, on top of that, a great shrieking wind came along. After that, an earthquake. Then, a raging fire tore through the mountain. But, Elijah discovered that God couldn’t be heard in any of this noisy turmoil. Not in Jezebel’s threats, and not in any of the destruction around him. About that time came a still, small voice. Elijah recognized God’s voice in the stillness. And his example is a promise that each of us can, too.
Stillness: Where serenity is found.
Some years ago, there was a Seinfeld episode in which George’s dad was having some heart issues. The doctor told him that every time he was upset, he needed to tap into calmness and serenity. In true Seinfeld form, we see George’s dad meeting every stressful moment by gritting his teeth and yelling, “SERENITY NOW! SERENITY NOW!” This episode was all in good fun. But it’s also a reminder that you can’t find serenity just by repeating words, or by looking for it on the surface of things. Stillness comes from deep within. It’s a state of thought that has everything to do with what’s going on within you, and is not affected by what is going on around you. No matter how stressful your day becomes, serenity is attainable now.
Stillness: Its source is Divine.
In the study of Christian Science, another name for God is Mind. And since there’s only one God, (See Isaiah 45:5,6.) it makes sense that there is only one Mind. Mind, being God, Spirit, is always generating peace, calm, stillness. But, what about all the distractions and chaos we seem to encounter each day? On page 113 of Mary Baker Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings, she says, “He who refuses to be influenced by any but the divine Mind, commits his way to God, and rises superior to suggestions from an evil source.” It is only the belief that there can be another mind that makes us feel tumultuous and unsettled. Sticking with the fact that there is only one source of thinking—God—no matter what is going on around you, mentally lifts you above the suggestion that chaos is real and overwhelming.
Stillness: With God, your only option.
The next time your smart phone is notifying you to the point of distraction, or the news feed on your laptop is pulling you down with moment-by-moment details of every world crisis, or even if the neighbor dog’s incessant barking makes you want to yell, “SERENITY NOW! SERENITY NOW!” remember that divine Mind is causing every thought. Because of that, stillness is your only option.
Stillness: Psalm 23 in the Bible is the perfect example. Click here to read it on my mountaintop moments page.
Ludwig van Beethoven once said, “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine.”
You may find it strange that when I saw that quote, I thought of the little dog I’m caring for this month. Like the beagle who stayed with us last year (see my blog--A Lesson from a Beagle) Joey, my new doggy friend, is also teaching me lessons.
Joey is a poodle-dachshund mix, and although his legs are short, the two of us love taking early morning walks together. Some days, Joey trots steadily along, forgoing all but the occasional sniff. Other days, he hardly covers any ground, pausing to sniff almost everything in sight.
So what do these morning walks with Joey have to do with Beethoven’s quote?
To me, they symbolize the two parts of spiritual growth—or feeling increasingly closer to the Divine—implied by Beethoven. First, practice the spiritual truths we already know. Second, demand our inspiration as we uncover new revelations about our spiritual nature as God’s image. (See Genesis chapter 1.)
Practicing the spiritual facts we’ve already learned is like the days when Joey and I trot steadily forward. The two of us are on familiar ground. Our steps are strong and confident. We can see our way is clear up ahead and we know where we’re going. We have this! There are no distractions. There is no need for us to stop moving forward.
Spiritually speaking, those are like the times when we hear God’s voice speaking loud and clear. On days like this, we usually hear His messages through a well-known Bible verse, or a familiar hymn. I don’t know how many nights I’ve awoken and thought of the 23rd Psalm. There’s such comfort in seeing myself as mentally at peace in Love’s cool, green pastures, or beside Spirit’s calm, still waters.
Mrs. Eddy’s hymn, Mother’s Evening Prayer, has also been my companion through thick and thin. The beginning line, “O Gentle Presence,” reminds me that God is always present to provide me with “peace and joy and power” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 389).
Your favorite spiritual inspiration is probably different than mine, but making practical the spiritual truths we already know is the first part of spiritual growth. Like a walking path with no obstacles, these loved ideas put us on sure footing.
The second part of feeling closer to God could be compared to the sniffing days of Joey’s walks. Those are the times when we need to stop and listen for new inspiration or direction. Sometimes Joey stops, stiffens his ears, and listens to a faraway bark, or a rumbling truck. There are times when he spends a lot of time putting his nose to the ground and discovering a newly-planted clump of flowers in a freshly-tilled flowerbed.
My walking companion’s willingness to stop and discover new information reminds me of a passage from the textbook of Christian Science: “Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, — wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 323).
Pausing, while we wait for God to show us our next spiritual discovery, helps us move confidently on our path of spiritual growth. Sometimes it isn’t quick or easy. But when we pause, really listen for God’s direction, then accept a new, more spiritual view of things, our steps become light, and we can feel ourselves making our way smoothly over rough terrain and taking unexpected turns with certainty.
Perhaps Beethoven wasn’t thinking of spiritual growth as an art. And I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t think of a little dog giving us lessons on raising ourselves to the Divine. But, spiritual growth is an art. Practicing what we know about God, and discovering fresh inspiration that helps us uncover more of our divine nature, puts us on a sure path of successfully feeling closer to God. That’s what I learned from Joey!
I hope these insights will inspire readers to think more spiritually about themselves and the world around them!