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Beyond the surface

From the August 5, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

The other day I looked deep into the bottom of a cool pond and had an absolutely clear (even somewhat magnified) view of the rocks, fish, and plants that were in front of me. The fish and plants were either totally still or moving in a logical way. But when I looked at the surface of the water of that same clear pond, I didn’t see what was really in front of me. Instead, I saw the sky, trees, and other things around and behind me reflected on the water’s surface. 

I noticed that even though it was a calm day, it took only a slight breeze on the water to make the surface reflection appear unstable or unclear. Some of what I saw was beautiful and some was not, but everything reflected appeared to be subject to outside forces of chance and changing winds, currents, or waves.

Similarly, if we look with deep spiritual insight at life, beyond the surface so to speak, we see what’s real, dependable, logical, and held in perfect harmony by divine Principle, God. However, if we just look at the surface of life, we may see ourselves and others wavering, unsure, unstable, and subject to danger and chance. 

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “We must look deep into realism instead of accepting only the outward sense of things” (p. 129). We have the ability to look past what appears to be a limited mortal experience and see life directly as it really is, as God created it to be—spiritual. Looking in these deep and calm waters of truth, we see order, stability, continuity, health, and safety.

I couldn't at any time be in any place outside of God's protection.

I’ve found protection many times by looking beyond what appeared to be going on and seeing the deeper truth instead. For example, several years ago I was coming home quite late at night on a subway train in a large city. I was the only person on the subway car until, just as the doors were closing, a very drunk young man staggered into the car. He began to make lewd comments as he stumbled toward me. Immediately, I knew that since God is ever present, I couldn’t at any time be in any place outside of God’s protection. And because God is infinite and good, I saw that I was unquestionably inside God’s goodness at that very moment.

Then the man came toward me and hung on the pole that was right next to where I was sitting. As he stood there over me, I thought of the last part of Hymn 189 from the Christian Science Hymnal, which reads:

He [God] keepeth me from evil,
   My onward way doth trace,
My going and my coming
   He crowneth with His grace.

When I tried to slide away from where this man was standing, he grabbed my shoulder. I thought of the armor of God that is described in Ephesians: the “breastplate of righteousness,” “feet shod with the … gospel of peace,” and “the sword of the Spirit” (6:10–18). I knew that mentally keeping this armor on would help me stay safe.

Then I looked up at this man, and as I looked deeply into his face, I realized that because I was in God’s care and presence right then, that this man was also in that same divine care and presence right then. His spiritual nature was protected from the throes of alcohol, just as I was protected from harm of attack. We were both governed by divine Principle, God.

I began to glimpse a gentleness in this man that had been hidden beneath the surface appearance of drunkenness and inappropriate behavior. It became very clear to me that he really was a child of God. Therefore, it could not be the man’s true nature to do and say inappropriate things. Seeing the man in this spiritual way, I suggested that he sit down beside me and tell me what he was “celebrating” that night. He did sit down by me and we chatted briefly. By the time our train came to the next stop, the man had fallen asleep. While we were stopped, it felt wise to leave that subway car. So I simply went forward a couple of cars to continue my journey home.

Christ Jesus taught that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21), or as Mary Baker Eddy explains, “… Truth and Love reign in the real man, showing that man in God’s image is unfallen and eternal” (Science and Health, p. 476). After my experience on the subway, I was grateful that we all have the ability to look beyond the mortal surface and see the spiritual innocence of life as it really is, here and now. Seeing this deeper reality raises expectations, enriches experiences, and secures our trust in the goodness of divine Life.

Sue Holzberlein is a Christian Science practitioner in Ashby, Massachusetts.

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