When a visitor opens the door to a Christian Science Reading Room, what does he find? A few books? Some tables and chairs? Perhaps a questioning look from an attendant? Or does he open the door and become instantly aware of an atmosphere of peace, strength, and love? If the recognition of this atmosphere is missing, is our Reading Room fulfilling its function as a healing agent in our community?
How can we improve this activity of our church? How can we ensure the Reading Room's healing impact? By understanding the spiritual nature of God's kingdom and its representation in the Reading Room. Mrs. Eddy writes, "The realm of the real is Spirit." Science and Health, p. 277; In doing metaphysical work for our Reading Room, we can base our prayers on this "realm of the real."
So let's take a look at our concept of Reading Room. How do we think of it? Surely Reading Room represents a sharing of the truth; it provides a place for prayerful thought and study; and it is an expression of our love for the community. But let's dig a bit deeper. For many, the door to a Christian Science Reading Room represents access to the truth.
Christ Jesus said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." John 10:9; This "me" Jesus was referring to was not his corporeal selfhood but the Christ, the spiritual idea, which Jesus expressed. He knew that the only way to permanent joy and a harmonious life is through the Christ.
In entering a Reading Room our visitor may be taking a first step toward the Father. The visitor is opening the door of his consciousness to the understanding of God. To him our Reading Room is a vestibule to Truth.
Mrs. Eddy includes this concept of vestibule in her definition of "wilderness": "... the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence." Science and Health, p. 597; Many in our community appear to be in a wilderness of unemployment, prejudice, poverty, or boredom. A Christian Science Reading Room provides a place where those seeking a higher concept of Life, God, may begin to find the answers to their longings. It furnishes an entrance to a whole new understanding of God's tender love for each of His children.
Is our room inviting? Does its atmosphere impart the freshness, purity, and peace an awakened sense of one's sonship with God brings? Our Reading Room will express these qualities when we keep firmly in thought the spiritual nature of our work for and in the Reading Room. We can be guided in this understanding by the following passage from Isaiah: "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." Isa. 51:3.
"Joy and gladness ... thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." These are what our Reading Room—a vestibule to Truth—can stir up in receptive visitors. Who can resist the healing that stems from such an atmosphere? Indeed, who can resist opening such a door?