Clink. What was that?
I was just settling in to a night’s rest drifting off to a peaceful sleep when the sound of something hitting our wooden floor awakened me. I raised my head and quietly listened.
I settled back in.
Clink … roll … roll … roll …
There it is again.
This time I just lay there thinking of what it could be, and it occurred to me that my bed is an antique wooden single bed and that I had fastened the mattress frame with a metal bolt. Obviously one of the nuts had come off, and now a washer. That meant that if the mattress frame slid off the bolt, the corner would collapse.
I shouldn’t move, I thought. But I couldn’t just lie there awake all night! Maybe I should wake my wife in the bed next to me so she can help. I wonder if there’s a wrench in the house?
Oh, no, that had to be the bolt!
Odd … the bed didn’t fall.
Finally, I’m up. Nothing else has fallen and the bed is still in place. I get the flashlight from the night stand, get on my hands and knees, crawl around on the floor and look for evidence. Nothing at the head of the bed, so I crawl around to the foot of the bed, keeping the light low.
Then I saw it.
A pen, a dime, and a quarter?! But where’s the nut, bolt, and washer?
I turned and sat on the floor, collecting my thoughts, and slowly I recalled emptying my pockets onto the bed when my wife and I returned from an evening out to supper. Obviously I’d unsettled these objects with my feet from beneath the covers. Wow, all that worrying and planning for nothing! Relieved, I turned the flashlight off and got back into bed.
I thought of how mortal belief weaves together seemingly convincing factors, in this instance, drowsiness, darkness, unidentified sounds, and speculation, and then how I had allowed myself to wrongly assume an “inevitable,” even though quite unlikely, outcome. Granted, this was a harmless, isolated event, much different and much less complicated than the “real” problems in our lives.
But could the analogy apply to the “bigger stuff”?
Just recently I began to notice some symptoms of a popular seasonal illness. It troubled me, just as the sounds of the pen, quarter, and dime had. And because of my familiarity and past experience with the symptoms, the thought came that I should probably take a nap. I almost gave into that idea. It sounded pretty good actually.
It was imperative to get my thinking out of lethargic speculation.
But this time, I rebelled against the suggestion that being unconscious would make me feel better. Instead, I worked to become more awake to God’s presence and my uninterrupted expression of health, right activity, and expectancy of good.
Mary Baker Eddy says in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “Instead of blind and calm submission to the incipient or advanced stages of disease, rise in rebellion against them” (p. 391). And that’s what I did. Rather than sitting at my desk praying and studying as I usually do, I decided to work in the yard raking leaves. But even before starting this task, I made the promise to myself that I would do this activity only if I kept my thought up and held it “steadfastly to God and His idea” (p. 495).
I did, and within a short time, all symptoms of seasonal illness were entirely gone.
In both instances—both lying awake listening to my bed “fall apart,” and having the symptoms of illness—it was not actually necessary to get out of bed or rake leaves, but it was imperative to be actively awake. To get my thinking out of lethargic speculation into the active consciousness of divine Mind, which never slumbers.
Paul said in Romans, “Now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (13:11).
It’s always a good time to be awake.
Chris Shoaf is a Christian Science practitioner living in Salisbury, North Carolina.