Home away from home
Last summer, I spent seven weeks away from home, stopping back at home only for a couple of days in between trips. The summer was tough, but a great growing experience for me—I learned many spiritual lessons, and I got a better idea of what “home” really means.
For the first two weeks of travel, I was on a trip with my National Leadership Council (NLC) class. The NLC is a program for Christian Science teens that runs through all four years of high school. Every summer each NLC class goes on a different trip. This summer was my class’s adventure trip, and we went sailing and whitewater rafting in California.
I couldn’t wait to go to California, especially because my NLC classmates and I had worked so hard to help plan the trip. But even with all of the excitement, I kept worrying about flying across the country alone (I live in Florida). I had never done that before, and on top of that, it wasn’t a direct flight—I had a plane change in a big airport. The nervousness took away from my anticipation and excitement about the trip and about seeing some of my best friends.
Then I started thinking about how fear would try to distract me from all the good that was going to happen on this trip. I didn’t need to let anything take away my happiness! I knew that I was going to be in God’s kingdom the whole time since His kingdom isn’t limited to one specific place, so I wouldn’t be alone even when navigating a plane change in an unfamiliar airport. As the trip drew closer, I kept thinking about these ideas, and I got more and more comfortable with the idea of flying and changing planes. When the day came to leave for California, I didn’t even think about the fear of being in an airport alone. Both flights went smoothly, and I changed planes with absolutely no problem.
But then there was a hiccup: When I arrived at the airport in California and went to retrieve my luggage, it wasn’t at baggage claim. After waiting for a while, I met up with one of my class leaders and we reported my missing luggage. Of course, I had already been praying since it first went “missing.” I thought back to what I knew about God’s kingdom, which fills all space including the airport. Everything must be in its right place in this kingdom, since inharmony or chaos isn’t any part of God. That meant that nothing could be lost or misplaced because God knows where everything is.
After we filled out the necessary paperwork, my class leader called the Christian Science practitioner who was prayerfully supporting our trip. The practitioner and I talked for a few minutes about how nothing could be misplaced since I was totally under God’s control and how I would have everything I’d need. The practitioner, my class leader, and I kept knowing the truth: that my experience, and our trip, was completely guarded and protected by God.
That night everyone was praying, even my parents back home. I knew that God’s plan was for me to have everything I needed, whether I got my luggage before we sailed or not. I went to bed that night feeling calm about the whole situation. When I woke up the next morning, my class leader told me that the airport had brought my luggage in the middle of the night! I was so grateful that everything was where it needed to be, and I was fully able to enjoy the sailing trip.
Later during our trip we were scheduled to go whitewater rafting. I was kind of nervous, but also very excited to try something new. A few hours into the rafting we were about to navigate through the biggest rapid of the day. As our boat approached, we all reminded ourselves out loud that “no power can withstand divine Love.” This is a quote from page 224 of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy.
At the height of the rapid, I fell out of the raft. As I went underwater, I thought about the instructions the crew had given us in case a person fell out of the raft—and then I said firmly again to myself, “No power can withstand divine Love.” I felt secure, even underwater in the middle of the rapids. When I came above water and saw the raft, I immediately started swimming toward it. One of my boat mates pulled me safely in and we paddled out of the rapids.
As our boat approached, we all reminded ourselves out loud that “no power can withstand divine Love.”
Once our boat was in calm water, I felt the underside of my arm starting to hurt and noticed blood on my arm. The practitioner for the trip was in my boat, and we started praying together. He told me that I was expressing God in this activity and that nothing could change that or take it away from me. A cut on my arm didn’t have any power to separate me from God, and healing could happen since my real spiritual being was unaffected. I also reminded myself that “man is not material; he is spiritual,” a quote from page 468 of Science and Health. I felt so supported by everyone on the trip, and felt at home with my NLC family.
As we started back down the river, I held on to these ideas—and thought about them throughout the rest of the day. We cleaned and bandaged the wound, and it healed quickly over the next couple of days. In fact, by the end of the California trip I had forgotten about it. I was happy to share this experience with my friends and family when I got home.
Once home from California, I began to prepare to leave a few days later for a Christian Science summer camp. With little time at home until camp, I prayed to know that no matter where in the world I am, I can feel at home because God protects me. At camp I am surrounded by friends who care about me and people who are like my brothers and sisters. I love this feeling of support that I get every year at camp, and this year was no exception.
Each camp session, every cabin goes on an overnight trip together, where we spend three days and two nights hiking and sleeping in the woods. The morning that my cabin left for our overnight, we prepared physically and spiritually.
As my cabin mates and I were hiking, I felt something on my pinky finger. I looked at my finger and saw dots there as well as on the underside of my arm. At first I was scared that I was reacting to poison ivy, or something similar, but quickly remembered some hymns we had sung before leaving. I started to sing a verse from Hymn 148 in the Christian Science Hymnal:
Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.
(Anna L. Waring)
I knew that I couldn’t “lack” anything—including health or the confidence to joyfully participate in activities. I also liked the phrase “I will walk with Him,” because knowing that God was with me while I was hiking comforted me. I didn’t mention the issue to anyone, but the love I felt from my cabin mates helped me to expect healing. I thought about other hymns we had sung that morning and eventually forgot about my arm and finger.
The next time I happened to look at them, there was no evidence that anything had happened in the first place. I was so grateful that I was perfectly healed, thanks to my own prayers. That night when we stopped for dinner, I told some of my counselors and cabin mates about my healing.
I am so grateful for all of the amazing experiences that I had last summer. These were some of the first healings that I’ve had away from home. It just goes to show that no matter where you are, you are always in God’s kingdom, which is more of a home than anybody could ever ask for. All I can do is thank God for surrounding me with love and protection every second, even when I’m not at “home” in Florida.