Family freed from contagion
As the COVID-19 crisis deepened, I turned to Mary Baker Eddy’s short article titled “Contagion” (see Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, pp. 228–229) for insight and inspiration. A number of years ago I read that article almost every day for over a year. I share this testimony in the hope that it will help others.
When my daughter started preschool, she and my husband brought home every contagious ailment that was going around and unwittingly shared them with her little brother and me. We toppled like dominoes. I was dismayed at what seemed an enormous challenge.
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I had grown up in a Christian Scientist family with four kids, and I could not remember contagion ever being a problem. It now dawned on me that the freedom from contagion I had experienced as a child had been the outcome of my parents’ prayers, and that now my own family needed to demonstrate our God-given freedom.
My first step was to read the article mentioned above, which explains that contagion is a mental phenomenon. It states: “Floating with the popular current of mortal thought without questioning the reliability of its conclusions, we do what others do, believe what others believe, and say what others say. Common consent is contagious, and it makes disease catching.”
The article goes on to say, “If only the people would believe that good is more contagious than evil, since God is omnipresence, how much more certain would be the doctor’s success, and the clergyman’s conversion of sinners.”
These statements didn’t seem profound at first, but as I studied the article, the elegant simplicity of its truth became more apparent. Contagion wasn’t nearly as complicated as I was trying to make it.
The article quotes verses 9 and 10 of Psalm 91: “Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” This was so reassuring that I added Psalm 91 to my daily study.
How I thought about people and circumstances changed as a result of what I was learning. It became clear that since God, divine Love, is everywhere, my husband and daughter could not walk out of the kingdom of heaven into a hostile, dangerous environment. I saw the need to include everyone in my prayers, knowing that no evil could enter a heart filled with God’s love.
Then came a week when everyone in the family became ill except me. By Saturday, though everyone else was well, I was not. The ominous thought “Now it’s your turn” came to me. I rebelled against this suggestion that the spread of disease is inevitable. I had been studying and praying deeply for weeks to better understand God’s constant, tender care for all His children. Plus, we had experienced three healings that week, and although I do not remember now how I prayed about them, I was encouraged by and grateful for this evidence that divine Truth heals.
I affirmed that there is one God, one power, and that I am obedient to the First Commandment to worship only one God, to be governed only by the divine Principle of harmony. I saw that I didn’t have to go through a material process to feel better, since God—Spirit, Life, Love, Truth—is always perfect. I felt empowered to refuse to consent to contagion. The injustice of the claim that anyone can be randomly affected by sickness at any time spurred me to protest this illness by acknowledging God’s constant presence. I thought of Jesus compassionately touching a leper and healing him (see Matthew 8:2, 3).
The conviction that God cares for us was so strong that my thinking and expectation changed. All suggestion of discomfort just fell away. I felt the comfort of the Christ and was healed. I was able to eat a normal meal that evening without any hint of nausea. As I recall, that was the last time everyone in our family came down with the same sickness.
After that, I felt strengthened and ready to meet beliefs of illness whenever they came up. I also took special joy in sharing our healings—and there were many—during Wednesday testimony meetings at our branch Church of Christ, Scientist. A couple of them stand out because of the great lessons I learned.
One beautiful late-winter day, a friend and I were outside with our two young daughters. The weather was still cool, but the promise of spring was in the air, and the little girls exuberantly proceeded to take off their coats, hats, shoes, and socks. We immediately dressed them, but they did it again and again over the course of the afternoon.
That night my daughter awoke and called out that she wasn’t feeling well. I went to her and sang half of a favorite hymn, and she settled down. I was glad to get back into my warm bed, but a short time later she called out again. This time I heard a clear question in my thought: “Could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40, Revised Standard Version). I recognized this as Jesus’ rebuke to his disciples when they fell asleep on the night before his crucifixion rather than staying awake to support their Master. Feeling chastened, this time I grabbed a blanket, sat on a radiator beside my daughter’s bed, and prayed.
With the knowledge that God is the only power, I refuted every suggestion that weather, cold, or exposure could cause illness. I reasoned that the joyful innocence the girls expressed could not bring harm to them, since we all live and have our being in God, divine Love, who holds each precious idea forever safe in Her care. This time when I went back to bed, my daughter was sleeping peacefully, and I knew she was well—and she was.
When my son was about four, an ad for a cold medication came on TV with a voiceover inquiring in a New York accent, “Do you have a cold tonight?” My son looked up and asked, “What’s a cold?” I don’t recall how I answered his question, but a few nights later he woke up with the symptoms of a cold. As I walked into his room, I heard a little voice saying from under the covers, complete with a New York accent, “Do I have a cold tonight?” I couldn’t help laughing. This certainly showed the mental nature of contagion! Reaching out to God in prayer, I felt the peace of knowing that the divine Mind was in control and that the disease was not real. That was the end of the cold for my son, and no one else in the family got it.
By the time my children were in school, I had lost my fear of contagion. It wasn’t that we had no health challenges to meet, but my study of Christian Science and the many healings we experienced had strengthened my confidence that prayer is effective in maintaining health. Challenges came less frequently, and healings came more quickly. The only school the children missed was for vacations. They enjoyed good health from grade school right on through high school.
These experiences were foundational in my spiritual growth and continue to bless me today. I am so grateful to God for Her tender, constant care.
Sharon Morash Brooks
Lake Lotawana, Missouri, US