The Perfect Model

It was Hallowe'en, and a little boy had set up a "ghost" in his playroom. He had placed a grinning pumpkin on the top of a small stepladder, draped the framework of the ladder in a white sheet, and added a pair of gaunt, outstretched arms cut from cardboard. The result was a grotesque figure. During the afternoon and early evening, the child thought it great fun to play about the ghost and pretend he was frightened. But as the shadows lengthened in the playroom, a sense of fear began to cloud the little fellow's face, and his pleasure in the figure abated proportionately. The lights were turned on; and for a few moments the fear was alleviated. At last, however, he slipped to his mother's side and whispered, "Mother, I'm afraid of the ghost." "What?" said the mother, "afraid of the ghost which you yourself have made?" "Yes," replied the child; "he is so ugly, and I am afraid even to touch him."

With that, the mother took the child's hand and, leading him to the figure, said: "Now, son, there is nothing here to be afraid of. Mother will stand by while you take this thing apart, and then you will see that it is just the stepladder and a sheet and a funny old pumpkin." With reluctant fingers the child began to loosen the draperies. They fell away and revealed once again the familiar outlines of the stepladder. Next, the cardboard hands were removed and the light extinguished in the grinning pumpkin. The child then turned to his mother with shining face and drew a deep sigh of relief. "Mother," he said, "I'm not afraid now. I see it was the ghost I made myself."

This simple incident may illustrate a situation by which we older children are frequently confronted. When the light of Christian Science is turned inward, it often discloses in our consciousness a creature of which we are desperately afraid. It is a terrible thing, we think, of definite shape and sinister power. It may call itself "disease" or "disaster" or even "death." That it is only a composite of many false beliefs makes it seem none the less formidable. Beholding it, we may fear even to approach and handle it, in order that it may be taken down from its place of seeming power. Yet, even as Moses was instructed by the Lord to pick up the serpent before which he had fled, so we, if we would banish the thing we fear, must take it up, dissect it, and see it for what it is,—a nameless nothing, a fabulous creature of false concepts, which likewise has no substance or reality. But we shall find also, as did Moses when the serpent he had feared became a rod of helpfulness, that our willingness to challenge the fear has brought to us the strength and courage which attend true victory.

The Language of Spirit
October 4, 1924

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