In the summer of 2005, after an especially challenging and intense spring quarter I'd had to cope with as a university professor, I realized that something in my body was starting to go completely out of balance. The odd feeling of imbalance increased so much that I soon no longer felt confident riding my bicycle.
I proceeded with my daily affairs walking slowly, using public transportation, or the car. As a Christian Scientist I was used to praying about all health issues. However, at first I paid attention to this situation only in a casual way, not taking it as seriously in prayer as I should have. After some weeks had gone by, the condition worsened.
One day my husband and I decided to spend a nice sunny day in the beautiful gardens of Sanssouci, a castle in the city of Potsdam near Berlin. And there I had to rely on his arm and support throughout the walk, while asking him frequently for a break to sit down. I could barely move my head without feeling completely dizzy and out of control. Both of us tried to feel the presence of God.
Yet back at home that day, I collapsed in the hallway and then lost consciousness after my husband and teenage children helped me to my bed. He and I had discussed years before that if ever one of us were in a situation where we were unable to voice our wishes in regard to healthcare, Christian Science treatment would be our choice. So my husband, who is a Christian Science practitioner, knew how to proceed. He prayed for me during this challenging time and together with our teenagers helped take care of me. He would often sit by my bedside reading the words of hymns to me, as well as the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson and articles of interest from the Christian Science magazines.
In the course of the following two weeks, most of the time I was either unconscious or asleep, not able to eat anything, but able to go to the bathroom with help from my family and able to drink a little water each day.
During the times of unconsciousness, I still realized that I was unconscious. I saw myself either alone in a completely dark room or feeling as if I were falling upside down through an endless tube of swirls, in which past events and familiar or unfamiliar faces kept coming to mind. I also heard my husband's voice as he continued to read to me.
I NEEDED TO MOVE IN ACCORD WITH MIND'S RHYTHM, NOT JUST SUPERFICIALLY GRASPING TRUTHS, BUT UNDERSTANDING THEM THOROUGHLY AND HONESTLY.
There are three major metaphysical aspects of this experience that helped me move toward healing. First, throughout this time, deep inside I knew and felt that God was Love and wouldn't let me stay forever in this frightening condition.
Second, a hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal kept coming to me, although I did not remember ever having learned it by heart. I went over it mentally probably a hundred times, moving into the multifaceted layers of its beautiful message. It says in part:
Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from us now the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.
(John Greenleaf Whittier, No. 49)
I felt this hymn's meaning dripping slowly but constantly into my consciousness, as if feeding me with spiritual concepts and a vision I could hold on to. My spiritual sense was waiting for the beauty of God's peace to be expressed in my experience.
Third, whenever I was conscious and able to pray, my husband and I watched what we called our "links." Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health: "The real man being linked by Science to his Maker, mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship" (p. 316). This encouraged me to be very clear in regard to my spiritual origin and the divine cause of creation. And in order to truly understand that we are the children of God—ideas of divine Mind, expressions of Life—we have to turn away from a material origin. We all can have only one link to divine Life.
Our Christian Science teacher had recently elaborated on this idea of being linked to God in an address to our Christian Science association; the idea made so much sense to me. It helped me see the magnitude and power of a spiritual cause operating as law in my experience.
Think of a website: If you remove the hyperlink, you remove the access to another website. In the same way, I realized that in my thought I had to cut off the concept of a material past and present and future. I wanted to separate myself from fearful thinking that focused on the inability to be in control. My mother, also a Christian Science practitioner, helped me make this concept more concrete by encouraging me to say "snipsnap" and pretend I cut off any fearful thought with a pair of scissors. Thinking about this helped me very much.
At the beginning of the third week, my husband asked if there was anything I needed or wanted in particular. And I replied, "The sea." He unselfishly arranged for a trip to the Baltic Sea, swooping me up in a blanket and driving me up to the seashore, about four hours away from where we live. We entered the island of Rügen on a lovely curvy road, and suddenly from the top of the steep coast, we had a full view of the sea. It was so incredibly beautiful, majestic, alive—blue water as far as the eye could see. I burst into tears, the tears washing away with gratitude and awe the anguish and fears of days past.
Over the next few days we did nothing but read and pray and talk about Bible texts and articles relating to the Christ. At one point I felt confident enough to take a long walk, including a climb down the bluffs, still very slowly. But every day, more of the dizziness dissipated, and control and strength returned. I was free. And I have been free of these symptoms ever since.
I did not mind at all the slower pace of this healing, not even at the worst moments, because I knew all the time that this was a great opportunity to learn and progress and grow deeper spiritual roots than ever before. I felt I needed to move in accord with Mind's rhythm, not just superficially grasping truths, but understanding them thoroughly and honestly. I continue to affirm my spiritual link with Truth, to practice self-knowledge, and to make sure that I have a good balance of spiritual refreshment, work, care of relationships, and proper care of the body on a daily basis.
In this, I'm guided by what St. Paul writes in the Bible: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:1, 2).
Dr. Annette Kreutziger-Herr is a professor of musicology and cultural studies and lives in Berlin, Germany.
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