Ascending in thought
How do you uplift your thought? It sounds easy enough—just pray, affirming spiritual truths for yourself that you know are helpful! However, I’m learning that actually rising above daily struggles can be quite an endeavor.
Last summer I had the opportunity to travel to Peru with my DiscoveryBound National Leadership Council (NLC) class, a leadership council for high school students who are Christian Scientists and are dedicated to servant leadership based on the teachings of Christ Jesus.
In the weeks leading up to our trip, various class members sent out inspirational emails, and throughout our trip we had “Christian Science practitioners of the day,” which allowed my classmates and me to serve along with our designated Journal-listed practitioner as spiritual workers for the class. I’d also been praying to feel inspired and know that God is supreme. I knew I could feel protected from any suggestions that something could interfere with my health or joy.
At points on our trip, many members of my class, including me, appeared to be suffering from food poisoning. Thankfully, many of my classmates experienced quick healings.
When I started to feel ill, immediately one of my group leaders and I began praying and working with passages from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, and many of my classmates began sharing spiritual truths with me.
That night as my group leader read to me from Science and Health, I prayed with the ideas she was sharing. Despite the good thoughts I was working with, I began to feel very fearful because I was not able to retain any food or drink, and I was worried what would happen if that continued the next day. We were heading to Machu Picchu in the morning, an excursion that I had been looking forward to since the beginning of the service trip, but there would be no bathroom facilities in the park.
The morning of our excursion, most of my classmates woke up excited and ready for a day of hiking, feeling strong and healthy. I woke up still not feeling well but held close to the idea that I am spiritual, made in the perfect image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26, 27), and that because of this, suffering and illness were not part of God’s plan for me. Only God’s harmony could reign supreme, and discord was not part of this trip or me.
I began to feel freer and spiritually empowered.
I had come to Peru to do good and could not be punished for that. As Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, “Whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself” (p. 385). While I knew I could stay back if I needed to, I also knew it was a right activity to serve in Peru and experience a joyful day with my NLC class at Machu Picchu, and I realized I could in no way be burdened when I had pure motives.
As we arrived at Machu Picchu, our leaders informed us that we would be climbing Huayna Picchu, the smaller of the two mountains that is generally featured in advertisements. I began to worry again, fearing that I was not in the right condition to complete a difficult hike and that I would lag behind my fit and capable class members.
However, as I started the climb up the mountain with two of my friends by my side, part of the first verse of Hymn 139 from the Christian Science Hymnal came to mind. It reads, “I walk with Love along the way” (Minny M. H. Ayers). For each step up the mountain, I said one of the words in this line, declaring divine Love’s perfection and my freedom. Rather than feeling weary and nauseated as I climbed higher, I began to feel freer and spiritually empowered.
Part of the third verse from Hymn 136 also came to mind: “I climb, with joy, the heights of Mind, / To soar o’er time and space” (Violet Hay, © CSBD). This verse described what I was doing. I was climbing this mountain with joy and dominion—the spiritual “heights of Mind.” I was with my supportive friends, surrounded by divine Love, and could not be deprived of my health. And, I was “soar[ing]” over “time and space,” or, in other words, I was uplifting my thought above any material limitations, as I “walk[ed] with Love,” God, up the mountain!
The analogy between climbing and uplifting my thought suddenly became very clear to me as I neared the top. My ascent up Huayna Picchu paralleled the ascension of my thought. As I came closer and closer to the precipice (and the hike became more difficult), my thought rose higher and higher above all mental suggestions that tried to tell me I should feel exhausted, dizzy, nauseated, or incapable.
When I reached the peak, I realized I was completely free of all signs of illness, and I knew my thought was at its highest. I had not only conquered hiking Huayna Picchu but I had also prevailed over sickness and made good time, reaching the top around the same time as the majority of my class.
Now, whenever I am struggling to overcome a daunting challenge, I remember to uplift my thought and view each struggle not as a hardship but as an opportunity to ascend in thought.