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'Spiritual armor' at summer camp
Last summer I went to a summer camp for Christian Scientists near where I live. I was attending Ski Camp, which is a two-week program that takes place off campgrounds. We stayed in cabins by the lake and went waterskiing and wakeboarding almost every day. I was excited to try wakeboarding for the second time. (In case you don’t know, wakeboarding involves strapping your feet into a board similar to a snowboard. You stand up in the water and try to go from side to side across the wake left by the boat.)
I went out behind the boat and stood up on the wakeboard. I tried to go from side to side across the wake, as I’d been taught, but I didn’t realize I would fall if the edge of the wakeboard got caught in the wake. One of my edges soon caught, and I face-planted. As soon as my face hit the water, my mouth started to hurt, and as I came to the surface, two of my counselors noticed the blood on my face.
I got back in the boat, feeling worried about how much my mouth and nose hurt. But then I thought back to something the group had talked about before we got out on the boats. We always have quick metaphysical meetings, or “mets,” before each activity so that we’re outfitted with our “spiritual armor”—ideas about God that keep us safe by reminding us about our spiritual perfection. We also read the Christian Science weekly Bible Lesson every day as a regular part of summer camp. I’ve always found that the metaphysical ideas from these meetings help me stay calm in situations that seem potentially harmful, and this time was no exception.
Sitting there in the boat, I also thought back to a hymn that I had thought about a lot at camp. It includes this verse:
I know no fear, with Thee at hand to bless,
Sin hath no power and life no wretchedness;
Health, hope and love in all around I see
For those who trustingly abide in Thee.
(Bertha H. Woods, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 7)
Not only did the ideas in this hymn handle the fear of getting hurt, I also thought back to times when I had turned to it when I was younger. It had helped me not to be scared of being alone, without my parents. And now it reminded me that God was “at hand to bless” me in wakeboarding and everything else.
This hymn reminded me that God was "at hand to bless" me in wakeboarding and everything else.
With those thoughts, the bleeding and pain stopped almost immediately. I felt fine—in fact, I was so grateful for the quick healing that I started laughing! The only problem was that my new braces were broken. I had to go to the orthodontist with my dad, who works as a Christian Science practitioner at the camp. We quickly found a local orthodontist who would see me, and he was able to fix my braces without a problem.
Looking back, I realize I am writing this as an expression of gratitude for being safe and feeling God’s care.
Each summer for many years, I’ve had the privilege of serving as practitioner at a camp for Christian Scientists, at their Ski Camp. The campers come to realize that the waterskiing, wakeboarding, and other activities are simply vehicles for learning about their relationship with God through the lens of Christian Science. Each day is filled with metaphysical opportunities to grow and share through group Bible Lesson study, “mets” (which are metaphysical ideas prepared by campers and shared at the dock prior to boarding the boats), and spiritual truths quietly or enthusiastically shared in encouragement during activities. Each ends with a gratitude session, often held on the lake as the sun is setting, accompanied by hymns played on the guitar. So when a challenge arises, as with Brittany’s accident, the groundwork is in place for meeting each need with quick and effective healing.
As the counselor on Brittany’s boat told me later, they were so grateful for the calm and joyous manner in which Brittany handled the incident. As a result, fear was immediately replaced with reassurance that all was well, despite the initial appearance. Afterward, this quote from Science and Health was discussed: “Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients. Silently reassure them as to their exemption from disease and danger. Watch the result of this simple rule of Christian Science, and you will find that it alleviates the symptoms of every disease. If you succeed in wholly removing the fear, your patient is healed” (pp. 411–412). Though initially the bleeding was profuse, it stopped quickly. The healing was immediate. All that was left to do was replace the braces, which had popped off the teeth from the impact of the water.
The entire camp session was filled with gratitude for protection, for quick healings when needed, and for having lots of fun on the lake.
About the author
Brittany Duke is in eighth grade. She loves summer camp, playing basketball, tennis, and reading.
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