THE BOW OF PROMISE
In consonance with the declaration of the psalmist, "He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions," the true understanding of the Scripture must heal all manner of disease. Earnest effort is therefore incumbent upon all, that they may receive the fullest possible benefit from the study of the Book of books, and a question that each may profitably ask himself is this: "How readest thou?" Mrs. Eddy has said in Science and Health that "the Bible teaches transformation of the body by the renewal of Spirit. Take away the spiritual signification of Scripture, and that compilation can do no more for mortals than can moonbeams to melt a river of ice" (p. 241). The account of Noah and the ark, as found in chapters six to nine of Genesis, illustrates this point.
We know that among all peoples water has been a significant symbol. When clear and calm, it stands for purity, and for life eternal; when disturbed, it is the type of discordant mortal mind. The flood pictures mankind as submerged in the waters of mortal mind, and Noah's experience portrays the escape from unreality into the reality of being. Science and Health gives us the following spiritual interpretation of ark: "Science showing that the spiritual realities of all things are created by Him and exist forever" (p. 581). Noah's spiritual sense having led him to turn from sin and seek safety, he and his family went into the ark. His truer sense of being lifted him above the turbulence of error, and through faith, obedience, and spiritual understanding he was at last rescued from the discords of false belief. We remember that forty days after the rain had ceased Noah freed a dove which, finding "no rest for the sole of her foot," returned to the ark bringing no sign that the flood had abated. When sent forth the second time it returned with a single leaf; and the third time it did not return. The lesson is evident. Our grasp of spiritual verity sometimes dawns slowly. When Mrs. Eddy first projected Christian Science into the world there was not one to welcome it. Then, by reason of the wonderful healings which she accomplished, her hope and faith found its "olive leaf," and finally, as we see today, Christian Science has gone forth into all the world.
The ark rested upon Mount Ararat. To the highest peaks of thought divine revelation first comes. Those who are most removed from materiality and nearest the clear sky of spiritual harmony are the ones in whom spiritual consciousness is first awakened. It was to such a one that Christian Science was revealed in this age, and with her the ark of divine Science first found its home, because she above all others was fitted to welcome this argosy, freighted with its store of heavenly riches. When the waters had subsided, Noah and his family no longer made their home within the ark. That haven of rest symbolized the abiding presence of the Father, the spiritual sense of which Noah was to give to others. His experience was similar to that of the disciples on the mount of transfiguration. The impetuous Peter would build a home and abide there, but Jesus commanded his followers to descend from the mountain to the valley, and transform the material thoughts of others with their own transfigured experience. This is the true sense of religion, whereas the false sense desires to retain for self the blessed experience of exaltation. Those individuals who would seek communion with God through isolation from humanity, forgetful of its needs, have not fully imbibed the spirit of the Master. Jesus knew better than the disciples that those in the valley needed the result of their experience. So today Christian Scientists do not live apart, but reflect their beatified experience in the home, in the church, in the business realm, and in the affairs of state. We may return to the ark for strength; we may ascend at times the mount of transfiguration for inspiration, but the gifts of love and truth which God has bestowed we are to give to others, since the promises of God are for all times and peoples. Those who truly have fellowship with God and receive His blessing rejoice to transmit that blessing by sharing it with all the needy who are ready to accept it.
As a result of Noah's escape from the turbulent waters, he found for the first time the promise in the rainbow. Perhaps he had beheld this bow beauty many times before, but now it spoke to him of a waiting blessing from God the Father. It voiced to him the message which Shakespeare in a measure repeated when he spoke of "books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in every thing." In Science and Health is fully unfolded the truth that every single thing of beauty enshrines a promise of better days to those who have eyes to see: "Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color. It is Love which paints the petal with myriad hues, glances in the warm sunbeam, arches the cloud with the bow of beauty, blazons the night with starry gems, and covers earth with loveliness" (p. 247). To those with the open eye, then, every dewdrop which glistens on the petal of a rose, every star that shines resplendent in the night, every smile that illumines the face with spiritual joy, is a promise that evil is not to prevail, but that in God's own time right will triumph and good reign supreme. "So we must reverence the highest; have patience with the lowest," wrote a great man; and one with kindred feeling counseled: "Are the stars too high for thee? Then stoop, and study the pebble at thy feet."
Among all the forms of beauty there is none which so significantly enfolds within itself God's promise as the rainbow. This perfect arch of beauty, lifted high above the earth, and radiant in its many-hued splendors, easily makes its wondrous appeal to every eye. It comes when the storm is over to gladden us with its beauty, a fair harbinger that peace and harmony are to rest upon the purified earth. As the segment of a circle it is a symbol of eternity, a sign of life without beginning and without end. True, it is but a segment, but one half of an arch proclaims the entire circle, even as the life which we see here foretells the eternal life which is the heritage of all. The rainbow is but a reflection; it is not the mist upon which it seems to rest, neither is it the sun. But it expresses the beauty which lies enshrined in the golden sunshine. It hints at the truth which Science reveals,—that man is the reflection of God, that the light of divine Love shines for all. The body which we see is no more man than is the mist the rainbow, but the outward form which the eye beholds may reflect the perfect attributes of the Father. The arch which spans the heavens is the glorious gift of the sun, upon which it is dependent for its existence. So man has his being in divine Mind, and is as eternal as that Mind.
The watery elements which overwhelmed the earth and from which Noah was saved only by the ark, now in the form of mist reflect this glorious symbol which stands as a bow of promise. Herein is typified that activity of divine Mind which is so transforming in its influence that the one who under false conditions seems to be the instrument of warring elements, under Science may reflect the truth and love of God. Before his illumination St. Paul appeared to be the instrument of evil, but after his awakening he became the servant of all good. Thus the rainbow in its beauty proclaims the message which Paul declared when he said: "Put off ... the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
God gives us our bow of beauty, with its promise that error shall no more overwhelm us, that because Love rules evil is powerless. We find that when we respond to the call to seek the ark of safety, as flowers obey the call of the sun, the waters of mortal mind will be assuaged, and eternal Truth become our heritage. We learn that all error is unreal, without presence or power; that God and His creation are the only realities, and therefore peace, health, and life are our eternal possession. These are only hints of the spiritual verities enfolded in the story of Noah and the ark, teaching mankind to rest on the sure promise, "Lo, I am with you alway." These words from "Miscellaneous Writings" (p. 206) may well be to every Christian Scientist as a guide and inspiration: "As you journey, and betimes sigh for rest 'beside the still waters,' ponder this lesson of love. Learn its purpose; and in hope and faith, where heart meets heart reciprocally blest, drink with me the living waters of the spirit of my life-purpose,—to impress humanity with the genuine recognition of practical, operative Christian Science."
Copyright, 1912. by The Christian Science Publishing Society.