Wiping the slate clean

THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA beach near my hotel was deserted that early weekday morning. I had a short time before the day's appointments to drink in the Pacific beauty and press my feet into the wet sand as I walked the surf's edge. Fifteen minutes later, when I turned to go back, my footprints had already vanished. It was the message I needed that day.

In my work as a practitioner of Christian Science healing, I regularly pray with people who struggle with imprints of bad memories and guilt. Often they fear they will never lose them. I'd been invited to talk later that day with women at an alcohol and drug recovery center on the subject of finding forgiveness and a new start. Some of them had been in and out of jail several times for crimes related to long-standing habits. That unmarked beach was a renewed promise to me that we ourselves are not the power that sweeps away unwanted thought-patterns from consciousness. A higher power—the infinite power of God, who is good—acts on us. All we need to do is keep walking close to the ocean, so to speak, close to the truth that no form of suffering can resist the healing action of God's love.

It's been my privilege to see people move beyond painful pasts to new views of themselves and to more productive lives. Just the day before, I had spoken with a woman who left alcoholism and other destructive behavior behind through a deeper reliance on God and an understanding of her own and others' original goodness as God's spiritual likeness. She has gained much joy and better self-esteem. When I asked her what had been important in her healing, she answered without hesitation that the crucial first step was being honest with herself. She had previously resisted facing the fears and willfulness that drove her to drink. But she had seen that she had to get out of the self-deception that alcohol was doing something good for her.

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'Beauty for ashes of the vanished years'
July 18, 2005

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