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My 'snow angel'

From the December 24, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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train in snowy mountains
© Comstock/Thinkstock

The first weekend in December 2003, weather forecasters were predicting a blizzard-like snowstorm for Upstate New York, where I was living. I was three hours away from home—and that’s if you were driving in good weather. I needed to be home, and given the conditions, I asked God, my Father, for guidance. I decided that taking the train home was wiser than trying to drive my car.

The earliest train I could get was scheduled for 8:09 p.m. The cab company told me I should take a cab to the station as soon as possible because the cabs would stop operating if the weather continued to deteriorate. Even though I would have to wait four hours for the train, I decided to get there early and just sit and read.

While I waited for the cab, I took out my Full-Text Edition of the Christian Science Quarterly and read this passage from the Bible: “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalms 91:11). At that point the cab arrived, so I hurried out into the blustery snow.

As I entered the train station, I looked around in disbelief; the cement structure was totally open to the elements. There was no shelter from the blowing wind and snow; it was terribly cold, and I had three hours and nine minutes to wait and nowhere else to go. 

I knew I had to keep moving. I found an extra pair of gloves in my coat, and I put those on over the ones I was wearing. I tied my hood tightly and paced, back and forth. I noticed a young man in the corner as I was walking. With fervor I kept praying … and walking. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer and “the scientific statement of being” from Mary Baker Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (see p. 468). I knew that I was spiritual, not able to be impressed or touched by the elements, danger, and, most especially, fear.

I thought of the spiritual concepts in hymns, especially “ ‘Feed My Sheep’ ” by Mrs. Eddy. It begins, “Shepherd, show me how to go” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 304). Another helpful hymn begins, “He leadeth me …” (Joseph H. Gilmore, No. 95). I also prayed with the “Daily Prayer” from Mrs. Eddy’s Manual of The Mother Church (see p. 41), and the sixth tenet from Science and Health (see p. 497). All of these spiritual concepts were very sustaining as, by then, I had been exposed to temperatures well below zero for at least a couple of hours. 

My feet began to feel painful as did my hands. I prayed to know that I was always in God’s care and tried to feel the Comforter’s everlasting arms of Love around me. I also called my Christian Science teacher and asked him to support me with prayer.

To defeat the fear, I knew I had to focus on Truth. I was having difficulty breathing, and so I insisted that my breath and strength came from the divine Comforter, the presence of all-encompassing and all-knowing Love. I knew God, as my Father-Mother, would never leave me; I hung on to the conviction of my spiritual perfection and resisted the belief that I could be hypnotized by fear. Yet I was finding it increasingly difficult to remember the words to hymns, the 23rd Psalm, and then, my name. 

At that moment the thought came that God knows who I am and where I am, and that He would “give his angels charge” to keep me just as I had read earlier in the Bible Lesson. I had to trust God with every ounce of my being. 

Then through the blowing snow came the young man I had seen earlier. He said that he had come to check on me, and that I should follow him. He led me through the strong blowing wind and snow, to a glassed-in enclosure on the platform with a door that kept blowing back and forth. (I had no idea that this shelter was there since I had not taken the train before.)  He waved for me to come in and said he thought that there was perhaps a little heat coming from a heater on the ceiling. There wasn’t much heat, but it was better than being outside.

The young man said I should keep talking and walking with him. We had about an hour to wait. He assured me that we were safe and that the train would come. As we talked, I felt my thought becoming clearer. We talked about God, about what it means to love and to be loved, and shared stories about our lives. He said that his mother had thought he was “no good” and that he felt he was on a downward spiral. I told him that he was a child of God, and as God’s child, he was perfect and only good. I told him that he was my angel, sent from God to keep me alive.

God had put me in my "right place" to help this young man know he had a God-given purpose.

At 8:15 the train should have been there. Then out of nowhere we heard an announcement that the delay was the result of a switch problem on the tracks. The young man assured me that the announcement was proof that the train was coming. When it arrived about 45 minutes later, he grabbed my arm and said, “Come on, we’re going home!”

It was very difficult to walk onto the train. My feet were extremely painful, and it was hard to breathe. But we managed to get on and find seats that were empty across the aisle from each other. We both felt relief and then realized that we didn’t even know each other’s names. His name was Bert. 

I noticed a plug next to my seat, and plugged my cellphone charger into it. As we talked, a man behind me said that we were “lucky” to be alive. I said that it wasn’t luck, that God had sent His angel. When he heard our story, he agreed.

We arrived in Albany about three and a half hours later, after hot chocolate and prayers of gratitude to God during our train ride. My husband insisted on taking Bert home. Bert told my husband that he was so very grateful that I had been there for him; I had helped him, I had saved his life. I couldn’t believe that he thought that I had helped him. He had literally raised me out of the depths! I realized that if it were true that I had helped him, then God had put me in my “right place” in the middle of a blizzard to help this young man know he had a God-given purpose.

The lesson did not end there. For about three weeks I was challenged with frostbite on my toes. I was absolutely certain that I would be healed. I prayed daily for several weeks with my Christian Science teacher, who reminded me of the love Jesus expressed while he was washing his disciples’ feet. At the time I was a Christian Science nurse, and I knew that our loving care for our patients is just that kind of love. Now I had the opportunity to feel this Christly love in caring for my own feet. 

A colleague at work showed me how to bandage my feet. I never allowed myself to be frightened or discouraged by how they looked. Instead of viewing them as physical, I saw what they represented spiritually: a firm foundation, solid and supportive of my faith and my Christlike identity. I was able to work continually for those three weeks. Only this one colleague, my teacher, and my husband knew about the problem.

Christmas Day came and I came down with the symptoms of the flu. For the next two days I rested and studied Science and Health. It was clear to me that since I am a spiritual being, I could trust divine Truth as an “alterative” that would reverse any condition that was unlike God’s perfection. And this spiritual truth would not just affect one part of me, but as Science and Health says, it “searches ‘the joints and marrow’ ” (p. 423). If I were healed of the flu, I would be healed of every wrong belief, including the frostbite. 

Sunday I went to church and took my place as Second Reader. After reading the Lesson-Sermon, which involved standing for about half an hour, I sat down and realized I was completely free of any pain in my feet. Going home after church, I realized that I was also free of the flu. Truth had searched and had healed me. 

Over the years I have had many healings and have learned to trust God with all of my being, and to understand the perfection and completeness of His love. The result is always healing—and the healing is always permanent.

Leslie Coughtry is a Christian Science practitioner who lives in Bristol, Connecticut.

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