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God’s care proved in remote wilderness

From the January 8, 2018 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Christian Science found me when I picked up a Sentinel in a laundromat in Bloomington, Indiana, in the mid-1960s. I had been searching for the God that is Love, after being told that God works in mysterious ways and we can’t know why He causes the death of a loved one. This was told to me after my young wife died shortly after childbirth. I could not accept a God who was capable of both good and evil, a God who would cause the death of my wife. What I read in the Sentinel offered the answers I had been seeking.

Staying up late after attending classes—I was a music major at Indiana University—in about three days and nights, I read the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I knew I had found a truly demonstrable religion. I joined the Christian Science organization at the university, and I was buoyed by some wonderful testimonies and new friendships. From there I went on to learn more about Christian Science and cultivate a deep trust in God. 

Several years later, I had ended up teaching percussion and playing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. During the short summer breaks, I headed north, scouting out leasable land on which to build a cabin, and found a spot about four hundred miles north of Saskatoon. The site was surrounded by water, so it was only accessible by boat during the warm months, or by walking over the ice during the winter.

A good friend from the CSO at Indiana University said he would help me lay the foundation for the cabin, and we trudged across the ice to the site and pitched our tent. At all times, I felt safe in God’s love and treasured the silence of the northern forest, knowing we were never alone, never separated from God. The late spring ice held until we completed our task.

Two years later, needing to finish the cabin, I recruited my brother and brother-in-law. We cut trees, floated and then dragged them to the site, and then scribed, notched, and seated them together. Struggling with seating the final plate log, I pulled it by hand into position. It slid into the notch, but caught my gloved finger.

I screamed, and my brother, cutting small trees for the roof in a valley below, called to ask what had happened. My brother-in-law, who saw it happen, mistakenly thought I had lost my finger—the glove was still pinned in the notch, though I had been able to pull my finger free from it—and he told my brother that’s what happened. I didn’t give any thought to his comment, and after the initial shock of the accident, I took an instant stand that “whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself” (Science and Health, p. 385). I also silently sang Hymn No. 3 in the Christian Science Hymnal. The first stanza reads:

A grateful heart a garden is,
   Where there is always room
For every lovely, Godlike grace
   To come to perfect bloom.
(Ethel Wasgatt Dennis)

My gratitude for the help of my brother and brother-in-law, traveling two thousand miles in a camper and taking the time to help with this very difficult project, made this hymn pertinent. 

I was able to pull my glove out of the notch with some difficulty, and put it back on my hand without inspecting the finger. Knowing that I could not be harmed for doing honest labor, I continued with the log work, while prayerfully affirming metaphysical ideas that came to thought. These spiritual ideas were God’s ever-present angels. The pain diminished as we all kept working.

By evening, I had nearly forgotten the incident as I pulled my hand out of the glove. I glanced at my finger, and it was perfectly normal. The fingernail showed no signs of blackening. There was no further evidence of the incident during the final finishing up, the drive home, nor afterward.

On a more recent trip to the cabin from our home in Michigan, an 1,800-mile drive, my new wife and I discovered extensive repairs were needed to the roof, and we also wanted to add a front porch. Our planned two-week trip extended into a month’s stay.

One day, while I was paddling alone in our canoe to our car while on a trip to purchase supplies, unexpected rough waters caused me to reroute the trip around islands into calmer water, hugging the shorelines. I was struggling with fatigue, but was guided out of the wind and toward points of land that finally led me to the mainland and a road where there was traffic. 

Though the trip took twice as long as usual, I always felt safe and confident that I would reach my goal. The rough seas of human thought have no power over divine Mind and man’s reflection of that Mind. When I reached the road, a kindly Native American couple in a pickup truck offered me a ride to my car two miles down the road. By the time I returned to the cabin the next morning, the waters were calm and I was using a rented motor boat big enough to hold our new supplies of lumber and food. 

I had spent the night in a cabin owned by the man who rented us his boat. This means that my wife had been left alone at our cabin overnight, not knowing where I was or when I would return. And we had no way to communicate, since we were out of range of phone service. All sorts of negative thoughts had tempted her, including the thought of me capsizing the canoe in the high waves, and the fear of her being left alone with no way to get back to civilization. 

However, my wife knew I was a good swimmer, but more important, she knew I would be guided by God, divine intelligence, and make the right decisions, and she had an innate sense of our well-being as God’s ideas. “Man is indestructible and eternal,” Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health (p. 402). In spite of struggling with fear, she expected me to return and was happy and thankful when I did.

I’m so very grateful for God’s guidance, and the ever-growing sense of divine Mind’s ever-presence, ever revealing the actual truth of whatever material sense testimony tries to dictate. Truth is available to all mankind no matter the location. Understanding the truth that our beloved Master, Christ Jesus, demonstrated for us, we can emulate his perfect example, touching the hem of that Christly garment, divine Science.

David C. Warne
Traverse City, Michigan, US

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