When I was younger, my father and I used to walk to a stream that ran through the woods near our home. We would watch the clear water flowing smoothly along its course—sometimes carrying a leaf or a petal with it. Many times I made a dam in the water by piling up sticks and rocks. The water would then swirl around the side or plunge over the top, making foam and bubbles. When I took away the objects that blocked the water, it would flow smoothly again.
Another time I watched the same thing happen on a much larger scale at a logging camp. The logs floating down the river would topple over each other, piling up and blocking the way. Loggers using long poles would regularly clear away the clogged area.
Years later this image helped me understand Mrs. Eddy's definition of river in Science and Health. It reads, "Channel of thought.
"When smooth and unobstructed, it typifies the course of Truth; but muddy, foaming, and dashing, it is a type of error." Science and Health, p. 593. I realized how important it was to keep our thought clear, pure, and unobstructed—just like that stream I played in as a child. To free our thought is to remove mental obstacles that would confuse, tempt, or cause us to change our course or move in the wrong direction.
To me, "course of Truth" means the course of good, since good is another word for God, Truth, who is our perfect, loving, and ever-present Father-Mother. We should strive to express good in our daily life. And expressing good is a natural outcome of actively identifying ourselves as God's spiritual creation, not as limited mortals.
The spiritual account of creation found in the first chapter of Genesis tells us this spiritual identity is our glorious heritage. "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." Later the account states, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Gen. 1:27, 31.
Since man is the image of divine Love, we have the full measure of His goodness to express in our daily life. As God is infinite, He constantly pours His comfort and healing grace into our receptive thought. It is this revelation of God's power in Christian Science which enables us to prove man's complete, spiritual nature through step-by-step progress. Unlike the creek water, which can become clogged, the limitless inspiration of Love is constantly present to meet our every need.
In the degree that we express God's goodness, we will see the solvent of Truth at work in our lives. It unblocks, cleanses, purifies, by removing faith in and fear of sin, sickness, impurity. And Truth does this by exposing them as errors, supposed powers apart from an all-powerful God. Every obstruction that would block, entangle, or make turbulent—whether it appears to be sticks or logs that are jamming up—can be washed away by the activity of Truth. Every foreign obstacle in our thought and life that would cause resistance to true manhood must yield to God's power. The truth of man and the lie cannot exist together.
Christ Jesus' life and his healing works proved that man's true identity is spiritual and not material. And in his resurrection he showed that the Adam man, or mortal man, was a counterfeit of true manhood. Science and Health says, "Divide the name Adam into two syllables, and it reads, a dam, or obstruction." It continues, "Here a dam is not a mere play upon words; it stands for obstruction, error, even the supposed separation of man from God, and the obstacle which the serpent, sin, would impose between man and his creator." (Warning of the care needed in such word analysis, Mrs. Eddy goes on to say, "The dissection and definition of words, aside from their metaphysical derivation, is not scientific.") Science and Health, p. 338.
Accepting and living out in our lives a supposed separation of God and man is what would obstruct our expression of good. But as we recognize the spiritual unity of God and man that Jesus exemplified, we have a basis for removing this obstacle. The Christ, the spiritual idea of God, divine good, loosens the hold that mortality seems to have on us. It stirs us to be more Christlike.
We must work daily and consistently to remove the obstacles of sin—for example, of anger, deceit, jealousy—that would separate us from God and hinder our spiritual progress. Home, office, and the athletic field are just some of the proving grounds for this unity. And better health, improved friendships, increased harmony, more unselfed love are some of the outcomes of our demonstration of the unbroken unity of God and man.
A verse of a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal reads:
O do not bar your mind
Against the light of good;
But open wide, let in the Word,
And Truth will be your food. Hymnal, No. 201 .
God is constantly pouring forth His love to each one of us. We have only to keep open our consciousness and let the Christ enter in. Blessings to ourselves and others are sure to flow as a result.
And another lovely paradox: we can be humble only when we know that we are God's children, of infinite value, and eternally loved.
Reprinted from Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (p. 69) by Madeleine L'Engle. © 1982 by Crosswicks. Used by permission of Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois.
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