The power of one
As I entered the subway station, I noticed a man begging for money. About 15 minutes before, it had occurred to me to use my walk time to pray instead of just mulling over my workday. Right away I had recalled this from the Bible: “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). So I’d been pondering this idea as I walked, thinking deeply about this spiritual pronouncement of the divine nature of each individual (man). The holiness of everyone grew palpable to me in an undeniable way—and I rejoiced in it.
When I reached the bottom of the station stairs, I heard someone calling out, and when I looked up, there was the man I’d seen, coming toward me and loudly apologizing because he had spoken “terrible words” to me. Though I had not heard those words, I accepted his apology, and we talked for a time, including about God, before we said goodbye.
On the rest of my commute home, I thought about what had happened. Why had I not heard those words? And why had the man made such a point of apologizing? It occurred to me that the spirit of divine Truth and Love that had been filling my thought at that moment didn’t leave room for anything else, the way the presence of light makes darkness impossible. And it had eliminated both an offense and an offender. In a moment, this man and I had experienced our brother-and-sisterhood as fact—God as our source and each of us as God’s likeness—and were changed.
This gave me my first real taste of the power of divine consciousness, and made me glimpse the capacity each of us has, as the reflection of divine, limitless Mind, to affect collective human experience for the better.
Thought is the essence of our lives. And when thought is allied with divine Spirit, God, we partake of that Spirit, the source of all good, and become a vehicle for it. We also find we cannot behold ourselves spiritually without doing the same for our neighbor, because in the universality of infinite Mind, everyone is the spiritual idea, the child, of that one Mind, God.
In a speech she gave at the dedication of her church, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science and founder of this magazine, described just how significant this spiritual-mindedness can be in the world: “Is not a man metaphysically and mathematically number one, a unit, and therefore whole number, governed and protected by his divine Principle, God? You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle” (Pulpit and Press, p. 4).
A duodecillion is a gargantuan number. Depending on where you live, it’s the number one followed by either 39 or 72 zeros. (By comparison, a trillion includes only 12 zeros.) Such ability, authority, or influence is inconceivable from a human standpoint, regardless of how much wealth or what influence one person might attain. But as a daughter or son of God, as the expression of infinite Love and Truth, our reach is as vast as our understanding of God.
When we grasp even a little of our permanent oneness with God, we naturally feel and exhibit more of God—more love, integrity, purity, intelligence, peace.
This power or importance is not personal; it does not come from us, nor is it a human talent or gift that some have and others don’t. When we grasp even a little of the limitless, all-inclusive, all-good nature of divine Life and Love, and our permanent oneness with God, we naturally feel and exhibit more of God, good—more love, integrity, purity, intelligence, peace. Such traits are normal and invariable in each of us as the expression of divine Principle. And our recognition and living of these qualities, based in a spiritual understanding of God, makes way for good to be experienced in our lives, and beyond.
No life has ever been lived that has had more powerful an impact than that of Christ Jesus, and yet he saw himself as personally powerless. He said, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30). But because he also knew he was inseparable from God—once declaring, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30)—he also recognized that by reflection, “all power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).
The healing influence of that Christly life has since spread across the world, transcending time and place. The physical healings and moral reformations that came to others through his God-guided life were based in his daily, humble communion with God, prayers that Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy describes as “deep and conscientious protests of Truth,—of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love” (p. 12). These spiritually scientific prayers affected not only his life, but every life his thoughts rested upon.
In this time of pandemic, political upheaval, social self-examination, and financial uncertainty, “one” can seem not only the loneliest number, to echo an old song, but also, the least important. But this is only what we perceive from a material standpoint. Through divine Science, each of us can make a tremendous difference on the side of right and good. Every time we “preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with [our] divine source, and daily demonstrate this,” we are weighing in on the side of progress, healing, and justice. And like my not hearing the unkind words in the subway station, we shouldn’t be surprised to find such spiritual efforts not only helping us, but also positively affecting other lives—near and far—in ways we might never imagine.
Ethel A. Baker