My 'path map' and sharing Christian Science
One evening about five years ago, my friend and I were attending a Wednesday testimony meeting at our local Christian Science church. During the second half of the meeting, my friend shared a testimony, but I did not. After the meeting, she asked why I hadn’t shared. I didn’t have any particular reason, and she gently reminded me how important it is to recognize the healings always going on in our lives and to share these experiences so that others may benefit from them, too. Ever since this experience, I’ve been giving testimonies at almost every testimony meeting I’ve attended. And I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been healed by some inspired idea someone else has shared at a testimony meeting.
Lately, it’s occurred to me that getting into the habit of sharing my practice of Christian Science with congregations on Wednesday nights has prepared me for sharing with people who are not Christian Scientists on many other occasions. To take just one example, my husband and I moved last fall so I could start a master’s program. The first assignment for the graduate students was to create a “path map” of our individual journeys and how we came to enroll in this particular program.
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I had never been that comfortable talking about Christian Science with people who were unfamiliar with it, but I really wanted to share with this new community the vital role that my religion has played in shaping who I am and what paths I pursue. So while sharing my “path map,” I included my faith and how I practice it—and found myself able to talk about my experiences honestly and fluidly.
During the second week of school, our graduate program went on a four-day backpacking trip in Grand Teton National Park. We had been asked to sign risk-release forms, consenting to emergency care if anything were to happen to us. I asked to make an addendum to this form, detailing my desire to rely on spiritual care in the event that I was unable to care for myself, and my request was accepted. I decided that I wanted to share this information with my whole backpacking group.
On the first night of the trip, we were caught in the middle of a massive storm. The thunder and rain all around us were incredibly loud, but I knew I had to get quiet mentally. I remembered Mary Baker Eddy’s words in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “There is no vapid fury of mortal mind—expressed in earthquake, wind, wave, lightning, fire, bestial ferocity—and this so-called mind is self-destroyed” (p. 293). I listened intently to hear God’s guidance, and felt a steady peace encircling our group. I remained still and let my thought open to include a prayer for anyone else who might be camping or outdoors in that area. And then, in the midst of loud thunder and palpable fear, I heard a message from God, infinite Mind: There is no randomness.
The thunder and rain all around us were incredibly loud, but I knew I had to get quiet mentally.
Prior to the trip, I had been praying a great deal to see more clearly that God’s laws are enforced by divine power, and these prayers had been deepening my understanding that there is no circumstance, no chance, no happenings or events unknown to God or outside of His control. In that moment of seeming chaos, divine Love revealed to me that nothing of the danger we seemed to be experiencing was reality because divine Love is only good and is all.
When the storm passed, the group gathered and many of my peers expressed fear and uncertainty. One faculty member said it was “lucky” that our location hadn’t been hit by lightning. I silently reaffirmed that God’s plan has nothing to do with luck, and I thanked Him for our safety. In the morning, before we set out on our hike, I felt it was the appropriate time to have that open and honest conversation with the group about my choice of care.
As I was explaining that I choose not to rely on medical care, I was moved to share specifically what I do in place of this. It was important to explain that Christian Scientists don’t do “nothing,” but that my general practice is to rely on God’s healing power. If I need help, instead of calling a physician, I call a metaphysician, a Christian Science practitioner who will pray with me. In situations that are scary, dangerous, unhappy, or stressful, I explained, I choose to pray specifically about whatever the problem seems to be. I invited my peers to ask questions about anything I had said, and I clarified that I didn’t want to put anyone in a hard situation if something were to happen to me on the trip. Some asked about my preferences in case of specific scenarios, and I assured them that I fully trusted their “highest sense of right.” In other words, I knew that I could never be harmed by someone else lovingly helping me in the best way that he or she knew how.
My fellow students were grateful for my openness and for the fact that I had been praying during the lightning storm. A few of them later asked about how I’d prayed, and I shared some basic ideas about starting from the first chapter of Genesis, from the standpoint that God made everything good and that He, as our divine Parent, couldn’t possibly have anything bad in store for His children.
Since I started this graduate program several months ago, a number of other students have sought me out for conversations about God, asked questions about Christian Science, and even joined my husband and me at church on some Sundays. With every conversation, I try to recognize that God, divine Love, is the communicator—and His angel messages are always clear.
I’m so grateful that Christian Science is available to all, and that Mrs. Eddy gave us not only the tools for healing, but also a complete system of living and practicing so that our prayers can reach even those in other parts of the world. I’m overjoyed to have continual opportunities to share this fruitful understanding of God and His beautiful creation. I feel I’m beginning to understand and demonstrate Jesus’ command: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8).