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From the June 1, 2009 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Two years ago, I was teaching at a school on a picturesque campus. During the warmer months I loved to ride my bike to classes. One day, I was riding down a washed-out and relatively steep road without my bike helmet. I guess I wasn't paying attention and ended up slamming on the brakes. Before I knew it, I'd flown over the handlebars and landed on the road in a heap. I must admit that my first thought was one of embarrassment. I scanned the area to see if anyone had been watching.

Banged up and dazed, I picked up my bike and walked to a nearby building, where I found two friends. I told them what had happened and asked if they could help me clean up my hands and legs, since they were bleeding. They quickly agreed to help, and found a quiet place to have me sit. As I sat there, the pain and shock felt immense. I was starting to lose consciousness, so I asked these friends, who were also Christian Scientists, if they could pray for me and share some spiritual thoughts out loud.

My friends talked about God being a steady and reliable support for me. The Bible says, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1). I was beginning to see that I didn't have to be embarrassed or scared of injuries. One friend got a copy of Science and Health and began reading to me. Though I don't remember the specific words he read, I felt embraced by this friend's care. I knew this expression of kindness was ultimately coming from God—the one true, always-attentive, divine Love.

I was able to maintain consciousness as my friends finished helping to clean and bandage the wounds on my arms and legs. They loaded my bike into a school van and took me home, where my roommate prepared a bath for me. This steady flow of kindness proved to me that God never "drops the ball" or forgets anyone. I felt the deeply peaceful sense that my refuge and strength really did come from God, and that I didn't have to expect a long period of recovery.

That evening, I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray specifically for me, because prior healings had proved to me the effectiveness of prayer-based treatment. She reassured me of something Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 10:7). This was a state of thinking or consciousness that remained with me. How could I, as God's spiritual idea, exist or travel beyond the range of God's care? It occurred to me that we can live in "the kingdom of heaven" whatever we're doing, because it represents a quality of thinking, rather than a place. No one and nothing can stop the inspiration, security, and comfort that characterize heavenly thinking. At the same time, this doesn't mean we should try to test the limits with careless actions while saying that God will protect us. While I knew it would have been wise to wear a bike helmet, I didn't need to beat myself up mentally for leaving it behind that day. I never again felt dazed or as if I was about to lose consciousness.

That night I rested well. The next morning I felt ready to return to teaching my art class, but needed to have more substantial bandaging. I called a Christian Science nurse, and she advised me about proper cleaning and care. So I obtained the needed supplies and was able to get right back into the swing of things.

For the next couple of days, I continued to pray with the practitioner. At one point, I remember feeling frustrated that the wounds on my arms and legs weren't healing as quickly as I expected. I wondered about infection. But I saw how praying daily to maintain purity of thought helps me recognize, on a regular basis, that irritation isn't congruent with my true spiritual nature. If there wasn't any irritation or disturbance in my thinking, I reasoned, then I couldn't feel it in my body. I was also learning that prayer isn't a tool to accelerate physical healing, making life more convenient. Rather, prayer is a joyful activity, and it's natural to experience the effectiveness of this communing with God, through healing.

It soon became clear that I'd been pretty worked up about some things at school. Before the end of the year, I had many reports to write, and I also had to move to a new apartment. All of these demands had left me feeling depleted. But through prayer, my thoughts about the situation changed, and I started to feel more peaceful. Within a week, the wounds on my arms and legs healed up, and I was running around playing capture the flag for our all-school Field Day Event. There weren't any scars, emotional or physical, from this experience and I continue to enjoy riding my bike.

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