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A clear sign

From the March 19, 2012 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

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It was time to think about moving. Condo living proved too restrictive with fees climbing at a scary rate—not the peaceful home I’d expected in my golden years. But the “what and where” utterly escaped me. As a longtime student of Christian Science, I had learned by now that God alone could lead me to the next development regarding home. I wasn’t exactly worried, but the issue was never far from my thought.

On a gorgeous warm Sunday in mid-October, I was ready to spend the afternoon relaxing. There were six weeks left in my term as First Reader for my Christian Science church, and after the service I planned to put my feet up for the afternoon, maybe work on the readings for the Wednesday testimony meeting at church. Then an inner voice said quite clearly, “Go kayaking.” I brushed it aside.

Back in July, I was vacationing at a camp on Lake Winnipesaukee, a sparkling jewel of a lake in New Hampshire. (Winnipesaukee means “the smile of the Great Spirit,” and Mary Baker Eddy refers to this lake in Science and Health on page 477). I was stretching to hang my sun-shower (a device campers use to heat water) on a tree, when I fell from a large boulder. I landed heavily on my shoulder and upper arm, momentarily stunned and unable to move. The pain shortly gave way when I challenged it with immediate and firm prayerful declarations of my exemption from injury and accident. But I could not lift or use the arm at all. 

After the vacation, I never sought a medical diagnosis, but prayed daily and frequently to overcome beliefs that I might have torn, dislocated, or broken something, as well as to affirm my unity with God. There was steady improvement over the next two months as I regained full strength and mobility in the arm.

But I hadn’t yet considered trying to kayak. Plus, I had already removed the rack from my car and stowed my kayak and all the gear for the winter. Kayaking? Really?? 

After lunch I again heard, “Go kayaking.” This was not my voice! And every half hour or so it came again—firmer and more insistent each time. By mid afternoon I gave in somewhat grumpily, partly just to stop the relentless voice, but more because it finally dawned on me God was talking and I’d better pay attention. So I got all the pieces of the boat rack on the car, dug out the gear and lifted my 60-pound, 16-foot sea kayak onto the roof. Now, where to go? I suddenly remembered a small lake with a boat ramp at one end, no more than 15 minutes away. I had never kayaked there. Ideal!

Lesson of the day: God talks to us, sometimes when we least expect it.

Once at the ramp a young man helped me carry the kayak to the water. Paddling south with the full length of the lake (well over two miles visible) laid out before me, I beheld a scene like a famous Renoir painting come to life. The long, narrow lake was dotted with canoes, kayakers, fishermen. A beach down on the right teemed with families and children laughing and swimming. A gentle peace and hush hovered over the scene. It was a big discovery to find homes sprinkled along the east shore. There was no pain in my arm as I slowly paddled to the south and then steered to the middle of the lake. I turned about and stopped. 

Drinking in this idyllic scene, I didn’t want to move, transfixed by the beauty and serenity of this place. Then the voice spoke distinctly, “You can live here.” I responded out loud: “All right, I give myself permission. I can live here.” I felt a leap of joy at this astonishing possibility. Why not? Why shouldn’t I be able to live in this amazing place? Go for it!

Lesson of the day: God talks to us, sometimes when we least expect it. And Love, God, cares enough to keep speaking until we get the message. It may come as an intuition, a yearning, a steady nudge or even, yes, like a kick in the pants! We’ve all had those moments, although maybe not identifying the source. It does pay to listen. One hymn says, “ ’Tis God the Spirit leads, / In paths before unknown” (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 354). Another hymn neatly sums it up, saying that even amid uncertainty or gloom, we can trust God to, “safely lead us home” (No. 245). Our loving Father-Mother knows us so well, knows our deepest longings before we do. He stands guard, guiding our steps even if we’re unaware He’s there.

With the fall sun lowering, I needed to paddle back. This time I hugged the east shore looking at homes more closely. Midway I came to a dock with a FOR SALE sign posted on the edge, which I had earlier missed. The house sat back from the top of a steep bank and was largely obscured by shrubs. I made a mental note of the realty firm, pondering what was more than a physical “sign,” then proceeded north to the boat launch. This was no mere chance—I would only have found this place by kayak because I had no idea there was a road on the east side of the lake.

Two days later, I returned to view the house, which the owner had let fall into a dreadful state of disrepair. The realtor declared on the shocking first visit that it was a tear-down, not even a fixer-upper, plus it was ridiculously overpriced. Sad and somewhat confused, I dismissed it as my future home. Yet the message from God had been so direct, so clear to me. It couldn’t be a joke.

As my term of First Reader drew to a close, my thoughts kept returning to the house. I persistently acknowledged that God had a plan controlling everything pertaining to my sense of home. In late November, the price dropped. I found a contractor who assured me that though the house had to be gutted, the “bones” were good. 

My offer on the house was accepted in early December. All the pieces fell into place including a really creative financing package that allowed the reconstruction to go on while I waited several months for the closing on my condo. The timing on all related matters was perfect. I have lived on the lake for eight years now, daily marveling and thanking God for the beauty, serenity, and peace of a higher sense of home.

A footnote: The whole summer preceding that brilliant October day, I had been studying the Bible, all of Mary Baker Eddy’s writings, and the Christian Science Hymnal to expand and uplift my spiritual understanding of “home.” It was never about the square feet, the physical and material structure and materials, or style or even location. It was always about discovering the permanent qualities or ideas that constitute our true home: safety, protection, beauty, grace, salvation, shelter, warmth, efficiency, and more. I knew that these ideas already comprise our true spiritual identity as God’s beloved children, His perfect and full expression. They will always take shape in a home appropriate to our individual need. 

The spiritual qualities that comprise home cannot be demolished, lost, foreclosed on, or destroyed. You can never be separated from them. They are universal and infinite, including every individual, regardless of education, social class, age, or level of income. “Pilgrim on earth, home and heaven are within thee” (Hymnal, No. 278). Home is not a static concept either; it grows with your spiritual understanding. You can’t be “priced out” or left out of your eternal home in the infinite God, because, “. . . to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good” (Science and Health, p. 494).

No wonder Love’s voice spoke to me so clearly; no wonder I heard; no wonder I had to go kayaking. That glorious promise in Mary Baker Eddy’s spiritual sense of the 23rd Psalm is true: “I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [Love] for ever” (p. 578).

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