What can’t be locked down!
Of all the events capable of becoming a shared global memory, a pandemic lockdown wasn’t the one most of us would have envisaged or desired. Yet most of humanity now knows what an enforced “sheltering in place” feels like. While the lockdown experience can result in great innovation and community spirit, it can also lead to stressful feelings of isolation and futility or, conversely, the tension of too many people at home, bringing unsought added responsibilities.
Whatever the difficulties we face, within or outside of a lockdown period, God—who is infinite, inexhaustible, divine Love—is capable of delivering us from them, as the Psalmist experienced. He sang of divinity, “I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place” (Psalms 118:5).
During a lockdown, we might feel the “large place” we want to be set in is any space outside our familiar four walls, or if we don’t have a place of our own, any space with four walls that we can call home. In either case, the “large place” God sets us in isn’t a location; it’s a mental state that the Bible describes as “the kingdom of God.” This divine realm is the spiritual consciousness of divine Love’s infinite ever-presence and supreme government, which are always at hand for all to discover and begin to experience. This is true irrespective of whether we can get out and about or find traditional shelter. As Jesus put it, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20, 21).
This is liberating. It means that everything we think of as being “out there” and out of reach is actually within reach of our true consciousness right where we are. For instance, the warmth and affection our hearts crave from, or want to share with, those we can’t be with are present in the divine Love that such mutual care always truly represents. Our true consciousness is populated by spiritual intuitions and ideas that come from God, our divine Mind. In a radical departure from the traditional sense of angels as divine beings, Christian Science reveals that angels are these pure thoughts from God, which are communicated directly to all of us and bring the most wonderful sense of being loved. They are described in a reflection called “Angels” by Mary Baker Eddy in the following way: “When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 306).
Addressing readers, the author then adds a heartfelt wish for us to feel this deeply satisfying spiritual love, and her yearning can become our prayerful thought for ourselves by replacing the words you and your with we and our: “Oh, may [we] feel this touch,—it is not the clasping of hands, nor a loved person present; it is more than this: it is a spiritual idea that lights [our] path!”
Everything we think of as being out of reach is actually within reach of our true consciousness right where we are.
Such spiritual, path-lighting angel ideas transform our hearts and free us from limitations and inharmonies. Jesus proved this by healing physical and mental disorders, overcoming lack, and transforming character. These changes came through the influence of Christ, the clear idea of God’s spiritual nature and our likeness to God that Jesus represented and lived as he walked from town to town.
This same spiritual idea came to St. John and empowered him to receive, record, and relay a clear and enduring vision of God’s kingdom while he was confined to one place. He was, in effect, in lockdown, exiled on the Greek island of Patmos when he saw “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). His profound spiritual experience under such circumstances can be an inspiration to us whether we feel isolated or inundated, and whatever the cause of such feelings. The key to freedom from feeling isolated or burdened isn’t primarily the change of physical circumstances we so deeply desire; this freedom comes with seeing God’s already full, purposeful, and active love present with us and truly governing us. It comes with understanding that “God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 307).
These spiritual ideas free us from the mortal mentality from which stem sickness, lack, loneliness, and other discordant human experiences. This mortal mentality believes we are in a permanent lockdown from cradle to grave. That is, it believes we are forever constrained by matter and confined to its limitations. In reality, this mortal mentality is locked out of all existence, because it has no place in the immortal Mind, God, and this divine Mind is infinite, All.
Our real identity, unconstrained by matter, is as God’s children, spiritual and free. We can always become conscious of the fact that God is our true Mind by stilling our thoughts to hear Christ speaking to us. The fruits of such spiritual listening are primarily mental, as described in Mrs. Eddy’s primary work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, where it says: “Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause,—wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory” (p. 323). Such “boundless thought” and “conception unconfined” are found in the Christly consciousness of God’s allness, which we can know more fully. It can never be locked down. Within it there is an unlimited storehouse of spiritual ideas that lead us to practical solutions.
Whether we’re feeling overstretched or underoccupied, in or out of lockdown mode, our true life is a permanent “sheltering in place”—sheltering securely in that limitlessly “large place” the Psalmist sang about. It is our spiritual life within the Mind that is God—in which harmony, health, joy, purpose, and satisfaction aren’t dependent on where we are, but what we are, as God’s ceaselessly caring and cared-for sons and daughters.