Christly compassion in healing
When we hear about disasters world-wide, it is helpful to remember the Master, Christ Jesus, who compassionately conquered the fears of those who were in danger. Two good examples of this from the Bible are his “boat” experiences with his disciples.
On both occasions, the sea was disturbed by storms; in the first instance, the Apostle John speaks of the sea rising because of strong winds. In the other, Mark speaks of storms and waves beating on the ship. Jesus calmed the storms in both cases, allaying his disciples’ fear and resolving the issue instantaneously (see John 6:16–21, and Mark 4:35–41). In both instances, Jesus healed the fury while in close proximity to the disciples; he literally got into the boat with them.
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One way to understand his actions is as an act of compassion—he lovingly entered the disciples’ experience in order to heal it. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, notes, compassion is key to our healing practice: “If the Scientist has enough Christly affection to win his own pardon, and such commendation as the Magdalen gained from Jesus, then he is Christian enough to practise scientifically and deal with his patients compassionately; and the result will correspond with the spiritual intent” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 365).
Compassion was the first step in successfully handling the fear or ignorance that seemed to control the children.
Christly compassion can be expressed in a multitude of ways; sometimes it’s simply our loving presence that calms fears, or it could be a compassionate thought or phone comment reaching a patient or loved one with the calming, peaceful assurance of God’s love, presence, and care. And quite often compassion is expressed in healing, prayerful treatment for others even when we’re not present with them. However expressed, compassion is an essential part of Christian Science practice. Mrs. Eddy notes of her discovery: “I named it Christian, because it is compassionate, helpful, and spiritual” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 25). Just as the ultimate Christian, Christ Jesus, tenderly ministered to his disciples and everyone who sought healing, Christly compassion is available today to uplift and heal.
Several years ago, I had the privilege to see its effectiveness when my daughters and I traveled across the United States from the East Coast to Wyoming in the Big Horn Mountains so I could teach at the National Girl Scout Camp. The camp director seemed unfamiliar with working alongside Christian Scientists, and though she commented on how healthy and well adjusted the girls were, my offers to help in camp outside of my duties fell by the wayside. It seemed the director was uncomfortable with me, and I didn’t feel part of the group.
This gave me lots of time to pray. I knew there was one Truth, God, governing all of us. One night, I felt impelled to examine the sky over one of the horse camps nearby and discovered smoke. Looking more closely, I could see that the barn was on fire. I awakened others and manned the mess tent, giving water and food to the counselors who ran to contain the fire, and providing blankets to those coming from the horse camp.
The surrounding meadows were filled with children camping from various states. Fire conditions were high; it was dry, windy, and the fire could have spread. I could see the fire trucks slowly winding their way on the narrow road up the mountain, and I prayed for the safety of us all, remembering that the first word of Mrs. Eddy’s definition of fire is “fear” (Science and Health, p. 586). I knew that because all was under the peaceful control of Mind, fear could not control anyone. It was mindless. As the wind swept across the meadows, I found Mrs. Eddy’s definition of wind also helpful: “That which indicates the might of omnipotence and the movements of God’s spiritual government, encompassing all things” (Science and Health, p. 597).
When I am faced with something that seems an uncontrollable force, such as the fire in this case, I often think of the quote “Thus far and no farther” and its marginal heading “All force mental” (Science and Health, p. 124). It is imperative to see all power from God and every power or force as totally mental. We have the divine authority, just as Jesus did, to say to the destructive elements or so-called forces of nature or mortal mind, Enough! The mistaken belief of the carnal mind—this claim of a material, lawless, or brain-based mind claiming to be apart from God—is powerless to stop the redemptive power of the Christ.
As I concluded praying, I noticed the wind had abated, and all the children, adult workers, responders, and horses were safe. The fire trucks quickly arrived and put out the remaining fire.
Following this incident, I didn’t have many spare moments as the director assigned me to handle staff and camper problems at other camps. I worked on several discordant issues with campers, counselors, and leaders, where compassion was the key.
I knew that no one was out of the reach of Love, God.
One young camper, who travelled across country with her troop, seemed uncooperative, and her leaders were ready to send her back home. When I saw this forlorn, rather defiant girl sitting alone to the side of her companions, I instantly felt compassion for her. She seemed to feel my genuine care for her, and we walked back to camp together to sit on the stairs for a talk. It was obvious she missed home, and I conveyed to her that her Father-Mother God was right there on the mountain taking care of her. She relaxed, accepting this, and when I asked about her a day or so later, there had been much improvement; she remained at camp and became cooperative for the remainder of her stay.
A second instance involved a staff member who appeared disoriented. She had disappeared from camp, and there was concern that she would be lost and harmed. As I joined the search party, I knew that no one was out of the reach of Love, God. I prayed for divine direction and was the first to locate her. Once I had found her, we talked about her relationship to God and the fact that she was always at one with her Father-Mother; she became mentally clearer. She stayed a few more days and then went home safely.
I dealt openly with these issues as a Christian Scientist. I did a lot of listening before I spoke the truths I understood about God and His/Her children. Compassion played a role in each case, and in fact was the first step in successfully handling the fear or ignorance that seemed to control the children. It was important not to sympathize with any misbehavior or identify with the problem, but see each person’s issue as not a part of God’s man, and to express Christian kindness and patience toward each person.
Our thoughts and prayers are so important for our world, local communities, and workplaces. We can all expect to see that spiritual harmony is ever present and that everyone we encounter is the eternally beloved expression of one God, divine Mind. And with Christly compassion, we can go forward to meet the needs of mankind just as Mrs. Eddy envisioned.