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From the September 8, 2008 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

In November 2007, a ladder collapsed under me while I was working at our holiday house, and I fell heavily onto my back. Immediately I prayed by claiming the absolute truth of this statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ". . . man in God's image is unfallen and eternal" (Mary Baker Eddy, p.476). I thought to myself, There can be no accidents for all is under the control of divine Mind, God (see Science and Health, pp. 424, 544). My conviction came from many healings I'd had in Christian Science.

However, I found that any attempt to move led to extreme pain, and I asked a friend who was working with me to telephone my wife and ask her to contact a Christian Science practitioner to support me in prayer.

An ambulance was then called, since it seemed wise to have trained help move me, and I was taken to a hospital by helicopter ambulance. Once there, CT scans showed that my shoulder blades and seven ribs were broken, and that there were five fractures in the spine. For the first few days I was flat on my back, and any movement — even to roll over — involved assistance by four hospital staff members.

Since I was unable to sit up or read, I focused my thoughts and prayers on statements from Science and Health, and on hymns, which were familiar to me. Words about Jesus' disciples from this hymn in particular were comforting:

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,

Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow thee.
(John Greenleaf Whittier,
Christian Science Hymnal, No. 49)

I had daily contact with the practitioner, who continued her prayers for me. She drew my attention to statements from Science and Health, including: "All that really exists is the divine Mind [God] and its idea, and in this Mind the entire being is found harmonious and eternal. The straight and narrow way is to see and acknowledge this fact, yield to this power, and follow the leadings of truth" (p.151). She pointed out two others as well that call for the acknowledgment of the supremacy of Mind; for example, "Sickness, sin, and death must at length quail before the divine rights of intelligence, and then the power of Mind over the entire functions and organs of the human system will be acknowledged" (pp. 384-385). I endeavoured to realize this truth for myself.

Soon I'd made enough progress that the hospital specialists decided surgery was not needed. And after six days I was discharged to a rehabilitation centre — provided I agreed to wear a structural brace 24/7. When I asked for how long, I was told, "For a young man, 12 weeks; middle-aged perhaps four months; for you, a senior citizen, we'll have to wait and see." I did not accept this limitation, but rather insisted that as God's spiritual idea, I could experience only good. The earliest date they would give me for a review was in 11 weeks.

One of the niggling thoughts that I had to confront in prayer was this: If in truth there are no accidents in Mind, why was I in this situation?

I came to the conclusion that conceding the possibility of an accident was like saying 2+2=5. What I had to do was stay mentally with the fact of my spiritual identity and perfection. Usually I'm very physically active, but because of my immobility, I was forced to pray to better understand that truth.

After two weeks — less than three weeks after the incident — I was discharged from the rehab centre and allowed to go home, by car rather than ambulance, five days before Christmas.

Medication was prescribed, but after a discussion with the practitioner, I decided to replace taking each tablet with a scientific statement of my being from Science and Health (see p. 468). I did this not as a chant or a formula, but as the spiritual basis of my reasoning, rather than focusing on the aggressive physical evidence. I immediately adopted this treatment, dispensing with any further tablets, and felt no fear or worry. I experienced no pain with this change of treatment.

A few weeks after returning home, I was asked to return to the hospital for a follow-up. Apparently the earlier scans had shown an internal growth. The doctors were concerned, saying they'd be urging surgery for its removal. More scans were scheluded for three weeks later. I continued to pray. When I returned, the doctors were puzzled that there was no evidence of the growth, nor could they offer an explanation for its disappearance.

Eleven weeks after the brace was fitted, their first available date, the surgeon showed photographic evidence that the spine had healed properly. He authorized the immediate removal of the brace and my return to full and normal activity. That was in February 2008.

Since then, I've been able to complete the work at our holiday home. To do this, I've dug drains, broken up concrete, laid paving, and cut down a tree, all without pain or restriction. This freedom has been permanent. I now treat ladders with more respect than in the past, but more particularly I have come to respect the need for daily prayer and attention to my spiritual and actual nature as God's expression, and to see this as the truth for all mankind. Indeed, there is so much for which I'm grateful.

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