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The peaceful eddies within a loud river

From the October 3, 2016 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

When one is sitting by a boisterous river, it may be difficult to detect the deep, quiet lessons that may lie just below the surface. There does not seem to be anything peaceful about a loud, rapidly flowing river. Yet even within the raging whitecaps and jagged outcrops of rocks, there can be pockets of peace and tranquility. Some areas of calm are called eddies, and they provide an object lesson for how to find peace in a seemingly “loud” material world calling out for attention.

One type of eddy is found in the currents of rivers behind solid objects, such as rocks. In some eddies, these rocks can act as a protection from the strong current, and often calm is produced on the other side of the rock. In rivers, boaters and even fish may find a sanctuary in an eddy.

Sometimes our lives can feel a bit like a noisy, rapidly flowing river in which we seem to be pulled in a number of different directions that are beyond our control. At times, we may feel as if we’re getting caught in a current, and then rapids. But it’s possible to find a sense of peace and happiness even in the midst of what may feel like turmoil. The rock of Truth provides refuge from these mortal currents of thought. As we turn our thought toward it, we find peace and health and experience the ever-presence of the all-encompassing good that is God. 

About a year ago my shoulder began to hurt. At first it was not a big deal. There was a little discomfort when I lifted my arm above my head. The suggestion kept rushing into my thought that I seemed to be getting a little older, and these things just happen. I seemed to be floating in a subtle current of material beliefs, not aware of how these suggestions were attempting to draw me in. So, I didn’t address the situation in prayer right away, because I didn’t think I needed to. I was being mesmerized into thinking aging is a foregone conclusion. The calm I felt was deceiving. It certainly wasn’t a spiritual refuge.

The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony, but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history.

— Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp. 470–471

Fast-forward a few months, and the pain was almost unbearable. Mortal thoughts were becoming boisterous and loud. Thoughts about others having had surgery, of me not being able to throw the football with my son, and of me never finding freedom from the pain, were pulling strongly on me. I felt caught in some rapids and was looking for relief.

One night I was lying in bed in the early morning hours, struggling with how to pray about this issue, and the story of Jacob in the Bible came to mind—when he was alone and struggling, and his thigh was out of joint (see Genesis 32:24–30). The part of the story that resonated with me was the idea that he never gave up—he persisted until the break of day and until his nature was transformed by Truth and Love.

Inspired by this story, I, too, stuck with addressing my situation until the morning. I realized that rather than fight these negative thoughts, I needed to simply find refuge in something deeper. I worked with “the scientific statement of being,” which helped me see my true nature as God’s image (see Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 468) and the “Daily Prayer” found in the Church Manual, which reads: “ ‘Thy kingdom come;’ let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!” (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 41). 

This prayer pointed me toward God, Truth. This was like a rock that shielded me from the suggestions that were calling out for attention. I could feel the peace, but the pain persisted. I stayed with the spiritual truths in the Daily Prayer. I felt a deep spiritual peace, and by morning the pain was gone. A few days later, I was throwing a football around with my son, something I had not been able to do for over a year. I’ve continued to be able to move my shoulder normally, freely, and without pain. 

It was important for me to fully accept that divine Love, God, meets each human need, and that Love is not a far-off, ethereal concept but a powerful, real presence that has a tangible impact in human experience.

That night the rock, Truth, shielded me from the negative currents of human thought and destroyed them. The truth I was seeing in prayer gave me a glimpse into the allness of God and fundamentally changed my perspective—and my body. Truth not only shelters us from troubling suggestions, but it actually separates us from the current of human beliefs and brings us into line with the Christ. “To the burdened and weary, Jesus saith: ‘Come unto me.’ O glorious hope! there remaineth a rest for the righteous, a rest in Christ, a peace in Love. The thought of it stills complaint; the heaving surf of life’s troubled sea foams itself away, and underneath is a deep-settled calm,” writes Mary Baker Eddy (Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 19).

Here was the key lesson for me: The spiritual peace that we find in prayer points to the allness of God. It’s not a small space that allows us to “hide” from the turbulence of human experience, but it’s the understanding that infinite Love fills all space. When we mentally abide in the calm of Spirit, we see that there is no turbulence in the allness of Truth. We realize that in reality, we are truly free in every sense of the word.  

Whenever we feel the tug of untrue, material concepts, whether it comes in the subtle form of the belief in aging, and the apathetic acceptance of it, or in a more aggressive form of physical pain, we can find refuge in a more spiritual, peaceful state of thought, as we yield to the definitiveness and all-power of Truth. In the stillness of our mental closet, we can shut the door on fear and expect our prayers to be answered.

I learned that peace, health, and holiness can be found through the line of demarcation that is spiritual understanding. 

I learned that peace, health, and holiness can be found through the line of demarcation that is spiritual understanding. Christian Science introduces into human experience this line of demarcation between what is created by God and what is not created by God, be-tween what is real and what is unreal, between Spirit and matter, between Love and hate, between purity and sensuality, between immortal Life and mortality. Each of these are opposites, and the line of demarcation is the distinction made between what is spiritual, real, and substantial, and what is not substantial. As Science and Health says, “Understanding is the line of demarcation between the real and unreal” (p. 505). Through understanding, the distinction is seen.

Mary Baker Eddy’s “scientific statement of being” clearly articulates this line of demarcation. It is the rocklike statement of Truth that provides a safe refuge from the seeming tumult of mortal life and points to the allness of Spirit: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (Science and Health, p. 468).

Each part of this most important statement of true being is drawing a clear line for us between the mortal, material paradigm (the belief that we are a soul trapped in a physical body) and the spiritual (the understanding that our identity is wholly spiritual right now), between a false sense of existence and the reality of Spirit, Love, and Spirit’s creation.

In this remarkable statement, matter has been called out as a fraud, and the divine Mind seen as the All-in-all. The statement prompts us to rise above our seemingly finite existence and to begin to grasp the infinite. In another of her writings, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “If mortals could grasp these two words all and nothing, this mystery of a God who has no knowledge of sin would disappear, and the eternal, infinite harmony would be fathomed” (No and Yes, p. 17). Christian Science is unique in setting forth this line of separation, which clearly defines the mortal and immortal as the unreal and real, as a false concept of reality and the true, as the nothingness of matter and the allness of Spirit.

Nature will often provide deep spiritual lessons, and a calm river eddy illustrates the protection and care that come from the rock of Christ, from the understanding of the allness of Love. The discovery of this line of distinction between the real and unreal, fully proved by Jesus and explained and demonstrated by Mary Baker Eddy, is one of the most important points in human history. 

It is this understanding that enables us to repeat the works of our Master, to reinstate primitive Christianity, and to prove once and for all that the truth Jesus taught does indeed set us free from sin, sickness, and even death. It enables the kingdom of heaven to come to earth in the present day. In Truth, in God’s kingdom, there is no place where Truth is not; there are no limits; there is no place where God, Love, is not present. Truth is the rock that is always here to keep us safe and whole.

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