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Blessings from reading a book

From the September 30, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Take divine Science. Read this book from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it.

—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 559

When in college, I read three biographies on Mary Baker Eddy as I prepared to write a paper about American women who made a difference. Little did I know how much her life would shape my own.

Even more than Mrs. Eddy’s accomplishments—which included healing so many, starting a worldwide religious movement as well as the international daily newspaper The Christian Science Monitor, and giving the world the textbook of Christian healing, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures—what impressed me most was her life, and how she accomplished it all. She encountered countless trials and opposition in bringing the Christ Science to humanity. Through my research of Mrs. Eddy’s life, I saw in her example: An inner peace that nothing could take away or ruffle; an inner strength that left human frailty in the dust; a steadfastness that wouldn’t quit but persisted until victory; a sweetness that couldn’t know hate but made all of life a blessing; and a certainty of purpose that only divine Love could impel.

By the time I handed in my paper, I knew what Mrs. Eddy had to say in Science and Health must be important. I had a copy of this book from my grandmother with a note inside: “Read this. You owe it to yourself.” Did I read it? Not right away.

Ten years later, I was happily married with two small children and I felt a spiritual yearning. I knew there had to be more to life—more depth—than I was seeing. My copy of Science and Health beckoned from the shelf. I began reading it. It seemed quite deep, and though some of the ideas went over my head, I kept going.

Then I came to a passage that made me pause and thank God. I knew this was what I was searching for: “The calm, strong currents of true spirituality, the manifestations of which are health, purity, and self-immolation, must deepen human experience, until the beliefs of material existence are seen to be a bald imposition, and sin, disease, and death give everlasting place to the scientific demonstration of divine Spirit and to God’s spiritual, perfect man” (p. 99).

I encountered trials, but this only impelled me to go deeper in what I was learning of God.

I thought back to the qualities I’d learned were expressed in Mary Baker Eddy’s life—peace, strength, steadfastness, love, purposefulness (the same qualities Christ Jesus taught and lived)—and realized they were the effect of true spirituality in action. Her scientific understanding of God was lived, day by day and thought by thought.

Before I’d finished her book, I noticed a difference in me. My priorities had changed. My desires and thoughts were purer, positive, purposeful, and unselfed. My husband remarked: “You’re so even-keeled now. Whatever you’re doing, keep it up.” The kids said, “Mommy, you’re fun to be with.” My own spiritual journey had begun. My study of Christian Science was earnest.

Soon I encountered trials, but this only impelled me to go deeper in what I was learning of God and to be more steadfast in proving the truth of those lessons. Healings resulted, along with a deep commitment to help others. Class instruction in Christian Science followed almost immediately and my public practice of Christian Science unfolded naturally.

The spirituality lived in Mary Baker Eddy’s life impelled me to study her writings, and they have brought untold blessings to my family, life, and practice of Christian Science. My gratitude to Mary Baker Eddy for her example is unbounded.

Judith Hardy Olson is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. She holds her classes in Westport, Connecticut. Judy currently serves as First Reader of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.

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