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From the April 28, 2008 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

One day this past winter, when I was out walking in the woods, I fell quite suddenly on some ice. I hit the ground hard, landing first on my elbow, causing a great deal of pain.

I've had many healings through prayer in Christian Science, so I had the confidence to rely on prayer this time too. As I lay there looking up at the trees, the first thought that came to me was, "I'm unfallen, upright, pure, and free!" I knew those words from studying Science and Health. Here's the complete sentence: "Through discernment of the spiritual opposite of materiality, even the way through Christ, Truth, man will reopen with the key of divine Science the gates of Paradise which human beliefs have closed, and will find himself unfallen, upright, pure, and free, not needing to consult almanacs for the probabilities either of his life or of the weather, not needing to study brainology to learn how much of a man he is" (p. 171).

To me, claiming the opposite of what had physically happened—that I was unfallen because my identity was spiritual—meant that I could reject self-pity, pain, and any doubt that the power of the Christ, Truth, was always protecting me.

Then I remembered something I'd heard a few weeks before at the Wednesday testimony meeting at my Christian Science branch church. It was the idea that God created everything, and that He created it all in and of Spirit—in His likeness, spiritual. As I thought about that, still lying there in the woods, it was suddenly very clear to me, as the testifier had stated, that in God's sight there couldn't be a material body to fall or material ground to hit. This idea lifted me out of a state of thinking about my hurting elbow and helped me focus on what was true about my being. At that point, the pain in my elbow stopped immediately and completely. I got right up and joyfully walked the mile and a half home without further incident.

After I got home, my head began to ache. But I was sure that this, too, would be totally healed through prayer alone. I still felt confident that God, who created everything "very good" (Gen. 1:31), wouldn't allow pain of any sort to enter my existence.

But when I went to bed that night, my head still hurt. The pain was severe and kept waking me up. At one point I remembered that that week's Christian Science Bible Lesson had a lot of great ideas. So I turned on the light, sat up in bed, and began to read it again.

When I came to a particular citation from Science and Health—one that I'd never quite understood before—I prayed to understand it better. It says in part that "forsaking matter for Spirit, by no means suggests man's absorption into Deity and the loss of his identity, but confers upon man enlarged individuality, a wider sphere of thought and action, a more expansive love, a higher and more permanent peace" (p. 265).

As I thought more deeply about this, I saw my physical body in a new light—that it was something that identified me humanly, but was not actually part of my spiritual identity. I reasoned that if I'd dropped my ID card (such as my driver's license) and it hit the ice hard, as my body had, that I'd simply pick it up. I'd probably clean it off, but would continue to use it without being afraid that my true identity had been altered in any way. In that moment it became utterly clear to me that my physical body was not my true being. My true being, my identity—because spiritual—was untouched by any fall that happened in the woods that day.

I saw, too, that I didn't exist because of a physical body, but because I was an idea of divine Mind, the Principle that is God, and therefore I was protected entirely by God's law of harmony. Soon I realized the headache was totally gone. I fell asleep peacefully.

When I woke up the next morning, I was totally free of pain, stiffness, or any evidence of having fallen. And this freedom has been permanent.

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