DURING MY TEEN YEARS I had a deep yearning to know God. The constant unpredictability and inequities of the human scene were too complex to give me any lasting peace. It was the 1960s, a time of great turbulence during which we questioned and challenged the status quo of everything—politically, morally, and socially. Drugs were an integral part of this counterculture movement, which I happened to be part of.
By early August, in 1969, the now–famous Woodstock music festival was approaching, a weekend of concerts in Upstate New York. Before I went, I made the decision that I didn't want to do any more drugs—which is humorous, in hindsight, given what took place there. While I yearned to do good and make the right choices, human reasoning as to why I shouldn't take drugs was insufficient for me to make any lasting change.
So off to Woodstock I went. Shortly after my friends and I arrived, I separated myself from them and went to a hill. There must have been many people around, but I felt a great sense of solitude. I sat and looked at my surroundings—the grandeur and beauty of nature, the sun glistening on the rolling hills. And, at that moment, I saw that there was an infinite Spirit behind what I was seeing—that God was not in nature, but behind this grandeur was an intelligence that was pure Spirit. That God as Spirit, or intelligence, had created it, maintained it, and therefore it was evident in my experience. When I caught this spiritual glimpse, I was clearheaded, I was articulate, I was myself. I knew who I was and where I was. A spiritual sense of life had come to me with such clarity that I never took drugs again. I knew nothing about Christian Science at this time.
In that moment, I remember thinking with such simplicity, "What human parent would hide themselves from their child? A loving parent would never knowingly do that. Now God, as Creator, would never hide Himself from His children. So, one of two things is going to happen: If I searched for God with all my heart, and God existed, He would already be revealing Himself to me and I would find Him. And if I searched with all my heart and couldn't find Him—what a relief, because I would finally know for sure that there was no such thing as God. And that would put an end to that quest and all my questions about whether or not God exists."
A day or two after I returned home from the festival, a friend, who was also not a Christian Scientist, invited me to go to a Christian Science lecture. I accepted, and we both went. I can't recall what the lecturer said, but during the lecture, I knew I had found the truth. I had found what I'd been searching for my whole life. Everything the lecturer said had spiritual clarity and logic.
That Sunday I went to a Christian Science Sunday School and enrolled myself. I walked in barefoot from a weekend in the park, in a skirt that I'd bought at an antique store, pinned on the side. I was in my late teens, and it was the beginning of my journey to know God. I was so glad to be at church with other people who were working through the details of their relationship to God.
Although my desire to take drugs ended immediately on the hills of Woodstock, learning who I was as a child of God took longer. I'm most grateful for church and Sunday School. For me, they were an anchor and set a standard. Attending the Sunday School was a vital experience. I brought whatever challenges I had to the class that week, as well as whatever ideas I was working with in the Weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson. I just took what I was reading and applied it the best way I knew how, knowing that was all that was required of me. We had a wonderful class where we would grapple with current and personal issues within a spiritual context and find resolutions.
A week or two after I began studying Christian Science, I was healed of a problem I'd had for a few years. I came home from high school one day with menstrual cramps, something that had plagued me every month. I lay down, and I began to think calmly and logically about how God knew me, and about how this was therefore the only way I could know myself. I clung with such vehemence to this truth. The logic of God's infinitude, God's love, God's being Parent and me being His child, I accepted so readily.
The good news that Christian Science brought me was that not only was God knowable Love and Life and Truth, but that I was the child of perfect Love and Life and Truth. And not just me—all were included. As I pondered this, the pain and discomfort left, and I was healed instantaneously. There was never again a recurrence of cramps.
When we catch a glimpse of who we are as a child of God, our lives are never the same.
Years have passed since that experience on the hills of Woodstock, but my understanding of God is ever renewing. This gift, the Christ Science, enabled me, as it enables each one of us, to leave the fabrication of human history and find our true selves in our relationship to God.
As the prophet Jeremiah so beautifully wrote, "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (29:13).
Emily Byquist and her husband live in Upper Montclair, New Jersey, and have three children.
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