I had a great healing after a recent trip to France. I was there for seven weeks with a study abroad program. The academic focus of the trip was “Bridging the Cross Cultural Gap.” We practiced looking beyond stereotypes and preconceptions to explore French culture with an open mind.
The last few nights in Paris, we stayed at a youth hostel. I noticed on the flight home that bumps were developing all over my body. Initially, I guessed that these “spots” were bites from bed bugs at the youth hostel and that they would soon go away. But after my return to the United States, the bumps were multiplying. My prayer was a little vain: “Oh, no! God, I’m getting married in two weeks and I can’t look like this for the pictures!”
But I kept praying and called a Christian Science practitioner to pray with me. She shared a simple idea from a recent issue of the Christian Science Sentinel: “There is no spot where God is not” (Judith Hardy Olson, April 30, 2012).
This helped me see that there was not a spot on my body, in my thought, in my experience, or any place in the universe, where God is not or was not.
The practitioner asked me to think through all the events, places, and lessons from the trip to France with a spiritual outlook. As I did, I could see that God had been really present with me for the whole trip, in every moment. Feelings of entitlement and injustice dissolved, and I felt much more peaceful and aware of all the blessings from my time in France. And the bumps soon faded.
I had come to realize, now that I was back in the United States, that I was glad to have some of the comforts of home, like a washer and dryer, reliable Internet, and a wider variety of clothes. It was also good to be back with friends and family. But being back in a familiar environment, I had reverted to some old ways of thinking—to making assumptions and putting people into boxes, creating a world where I felt safe by making judgments about other people. But that hadn’t left space for spiritual growth and healing.
I realized that I had gained “new wine” in France, and I needed to put it into new bottles, not old ones (see Matthew 9:17). My time in France, experiencing a new culture, had taught me to be more open and less critical of others. I was reminded that God is inclusive of all people.
—Madison, Wisconsin, US,