"Presence of mind"

It has been universally accepted among men that in times of great danger only those who have presence of mind can be of use in preventing serious accident and saving themselves and others. This opinion has been of great help to me when translated into its higher meaning as taught in Christian Science. Sometime and somewhere each one of us is apt to come face to face with his besetting sin or weakness, and no further progress is possible until it is overcome. Fear of something, which is only a belief in a power apart from God, good, is the common weakness of mortals, and as our understanding of the might and ever presence of God, infinite Mind, grows, naturally fear is destroyed.

Riding in an automobile, even at a slow rate of speed, had always been unpleasant to me; while to drive one myself seemed an impossibility, fearful as I was of an indefinable something. When the call came to me to read in a Christian Science church, situated two miles from our home in an adjacent village, I realized that it would be convenient for us to own an automobile, and that it was important that I should learn to drive it, in order to be perfectly independent at all times. I regarded this appointment as an answer to my prayer for greater activity in the expression of gratitude for blessings innumerable which had come to me through Christian Science, and I did not hesitate to "go forward."

An automobile was selected and I courageously walked up to the seeming lions in the path. After the mysteries of its operation had been explained to me by the instructing chauffeur, I took my place behind the wheel. "What shall I do if I see another automobile approaching?" I asked. "I may become confused and turn into it." To this the instructor answered, "You must have presence of mind." Then I stopped and thought: What is presence of mind? I realized that it was the knowing at all times and under all conditions that God, divine Mind, governs the universe including me and all that my thought may rest upon. All fear and doubt disappeared and I joyfully went through with my first lesson. Although it was several weeks before I felt sufficiently at ease to drive alone, the work of learning was accomplished with pleasure, and I gained a better understanding of man's dominion when this great fear had been overcome. During that winter, which was unusually severe, the necessity of being always present at the Sunday services and Wednesday evening meetings gave me further opportunity to overcome fear of skidding on icy roads, and again the realization that "Mind is the source of all movement; and there is no inertia to retard or check its perpetual and harmonious action" (Science and Health, p. 283), helped me under all unfavorable conditions of weather and roads.

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April 12, 1919

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