It’s been proved to me that “man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” Some time ago, I was heating dried peas in a pressure cooker to make soup. When the appropriate time came to turn the heat down under the cooker, I forgot to do it. This made the pressure weight on the valve of the cooker pop off and hot steam from inside the cooker began to shoot out. I grabbed the cooker to take it outside, but it was winter and the warm moisture coming from the cooker felt good and seemed to be adding humidity to the room, so I just set it on a hot pad on the floor and stood over it enjoying the warm moist heat.
However, when it stopped spewing, I realized that what had come out was not clear steam, but a fine mist of pea soup. It covered my kitchen with a thick coat of pea residue, which hardened quite quickly as the moisture evaporated. Cleaning it up was a big job requiring hours. By the time I finished the cleanup, I was having trouble breathing. It seemed that the same pea soup mist that had covered my kitchen had also covered my lungs. I knew I had to pray about it immediately.
I started my prayers by thanking God, divine Spirit, for His presence, power, and purity. I knew that I was created in His image and that at every moment I was surrounded and protected by His infinite goodness. This verse from a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal came to my thought:
In atmosphere of Love divine,
We live, and move, and breathe;
Though mortal eyes may see it not,
’Tis sense that would deceive.
(No. 144, adapt. © CSBD)
To me this meant that I could never have breathed anything that was outside of God’s allness. And anything that would indicate the opposite of God’s being was a deception, so I didn’t need to fear it. I saw that whatever I could breathe had to be part of His purity and would be clearly sustaining.
Since I was modeled “after [God’s] likeness” (as it says in Genesis 1:26, 27), and since God is spiritual, I am spiritual, too. The entirety of my being is spiritual. I had earlier done some research on the Greek word for breath, pneuma, which according to dictionary.com also means, “the vital spirit; the soul.” I realized that I didn’t need to take in pneuma to live, because that “vital spirit” or Soul, God, was my entire being already.
When I went to bed that night, I was still struggling with breathing. I was afraid to go to sleep because I thought I might stop being able to breathe in my sleep. But I saw this situation as an opportunity for spiritual growth and healing, and I wanted to learn all I could. So as I rested, I looked up a story in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures where Mary Baker Eddy tells about healing a woman of a breathing difficulty (consumption). It’s on page 184. Eddy wrote: “Her breath came gently. The inspirations were deep and natural.” That’s what I needed—I needed inspiration that was “deep and natural” to give me the mental peace to be able to fall asleep in confidence.
I began to see my inspiration, my intake, as comforting, sustaining, pure ideas from God and realized that my expression of God, my output, naturally came from that full, complete, infinitely abundant inspiration that God had already provided.
Verse 2 of Hymn 44 came to mind, which goes:
Fear hath no dwelling here;
But pure repose and love
Breathe through the bright, celestial air
The spirit of the dove.
(Felicia D. Hemans, Hymnal)
It reminded me that I could sleep safely because God was watching over me, giving me peace. Spirit was purifying my environment, and I would be breathing heavenly air.
I closed my eyes and began thinking of all the ways I had been inspired in my life, and how each of those inspirations had changed my life in some way for the better. Each inspiration allowed me to express God more fully and to bless others in more tangible ways. I fell peacefully asleep as my thought filled with the recognition of God’s presence in my life and my ability to share that goodness with others.
When I awoke in the morning after a good and peaceful night of prayer, rest, and sleep, all was well. My breath came gently and fully. In the years since then, there has never been any further problem with my breathing, and, of course, I’m much more attentive now when I use a pressure cooker—a secondary practical lesson learned.
I am so grateful for God’s inspiration, protection, love, and guidance that allows us to progress beyond mistakes to a higher sense of what is right and true, and to more fully express God as Spirit.
Ashby, Massachusetts, US