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Dry your wings

From the February 25, 2013 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Each morning three cormorants perch on the edge of our lake. They stand perfectly still in the sunshine, wings outstretched, for perhaps a half hour, not moving. 

Some scientists argue this pose means the cormorants are “drying their wings,” others suggest the posture aids in digestion of the fish they’ve caught. Whatever this means, our family has begun to use “dry your wings” as our family password when things seem urgent, or discouraging, or out of kilter. We say this to help each other remember to be still, get our thoughts in line with God’s peace, and feel, actually feel, right here, right now, God’s presence. Mary Baker Eddy referred to the importance of stillness when she wrote, “Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 230). 

Generally, our family begins each morning with reading the Christian Science Bible Lesson—looking for a higher, spiritual meaning, praying, singing hymns, or simply sitting still, listening for God’s direction. 

In the Bible, in the book of Matthew, it’s recorded that Jesus took quiet time for himself. He “went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him” (5:1). Perhaps that’s what we’re trying to do each morning—get set. Get right with the world, by getting close to our heavenly Father, acknowledging God’s hand in everything we face throughout our days. 

As we use Christ Jesus as our example of coinciding our spirituality and our humanity, we learn to trust divine Mind, God, each moment to lead us. Sometimes we need to “dry our wings” and then be still and “watch, and pray for that Mind to be in us which was also in Christ Jesus” (Manual of The Mother Church, p. 16). 

The importance of this spiritual discipline was especially clear to me one day when I got a frantic call that one of my children was taken to an emergency room of a hospital after an automobile accident. I soon arrived at the hospital. I, of course, wanted the very best care for my child. For me, that meant affirming that God was right there with us, along with the kind and helpful doctors and nurses, and that God was directing each one of us to take the next right step. 

We were making uninterrupted time to pause and listen to God.

I wanted, more than ever before, to have a copy of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures with me to share with my son, to calm us and to assure my son of God being right there with him, caring for him. We didn’t have the book on hand. But as I prayed and talked with my son, I glanced through the door next to the emergency room cubicle we were in and saw a woman reading a book. You can imagine how I felt when I realized it was a copy of Science and Health! She gladly gave me the book. 

I was startled when the doctor said he was glad to see me praying, because my son had serious injuries and could use all the help he could get. They’d set my son’s broken arm, but knew we wanted to handle this situation through prayer in Christian Science instead of going down the path of medical treatment. Legally, in that state, my son (since he was under 18) had to stay in the hospital until he was formally released, but the doctor said we were “free to use Christian Science,” and that they would give our family a little room where we could stay together, without interference. 

All night, we prayed and read from our gifted copy of Science and Health. We were “drying our wings,” making uninterrupted time to pause and listen to God. We prayed to know that our son was getting the best, safest health care, straight from God. We realized we could depend on God’s care, and we knew that our son was made perfect, already whole and well, no matter what seemed to be. 

The next day, my son was released from the hospital without any further medical treatment, but with instructions from the medical staff to watch for signs of concussion and internal injury. Over the next couple of weeks, we worked and prayed with a Christian Science practitioner daily as she kept a close eye on the progress my son was making toward returning to school. My son went from feeling fragile to feeling robust in a short period of time. It seemed wise to stay at home together, watching all the signs of having been in an accident naturally disappear and be replaced with a greater sense of strength, calm, and joy. 

Since my son had been a passenger in the car, it was also important that we not place blame on the driver, and that we genuinely pray to know that the driver not feel guilty. After all, if God is guiding and caring for each one of us, there wouldn’t be a moment when God is absent or not governing. 

After a couple of weeks, my son returned to school without any of the predicted side effects. Today as I watch him run marathons, travel the world on business, and express himself through painting, I often see us back in that little hospital room where we trusted God to tell us each next right step. 

I’ve learned that as we use the Bible and Science and Health as our guides to prepare for each day, we learn to expect goodness and harmony, and actually more clearly feel God’s presence. We learn of our relationship to God as His child. We learn to thank God for His blessings. We learn to be still, to listen for God’s direction—to “dry our wings.”

Cate Vincent lives in Torrington, Devon, England.

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