Shining by borrowed light

Mary Baker Eddy , who discovered Christian Science, explains one of its central points in her book Retrospection and Introspection: “Man shines by borrowed light. He reflects God as his Mind, and this reflection is substance,—the substance of good” (p. 57).

Recently, I was walking along a country road at night. In the darkness, I could just make out reflector poles every fifty feet or so along a curve in the road, intended to help motorists negotiate the turn at night. As a car approached from behind me, I watched as the reflectors lit up in the path of its headlights, then became dark again once the car passed. It struck me that without the reflectors, the car’s headlights would have fallen uselessly onto the surrounding fields; similarly, without headlights to illuminate them, the reflectors would have no purpose to fulfill. 

This felt like a good analogy to underscore a great spiritual fact: We’re just as important and necessary to God as He is to us. “God, without the image and likeness of Himself, would be a nonentity, or Mind unexpressed,” we read in Eddy’s book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the textbook of Christian Science (p. 303). The passage continues, referring to God, “He would be without a witness or proof of His own nature. Spiritual man is the image or idea of God, an idea which cannot be lost nor separated from its divine Principle.” We can rejoice, then, in our spiritual raison d’être, the unique and vital role each of us plays in the divine—the only real—universe.

As we become more aware of our “borrowed light,” we notice and appreciate this same light emanating from others.

Christ Jesus encouraged his followers to “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). As we become more aware of our “borrowed light,” we notice and appreciate this same light reflected by others as well. In fact, it’s the only real substance of, or truth about, us or them. Material, human traits—physical appearance, personality, ancestry, social status—fade in importance and and are less disruptive as we recognize our and our fellow man’s divine individuality and inherent spirituality and value.

One of the joys of shining by God’s light is discovering just how natural and uncomplicated it is. It requires no special talent or experience, but just a humble willingness to unite our thoughts with the one God, the source of all power, inspiration, and goodness. To the degree that we are willing to do this, we sense God’s light quietly glowing within us, through us, as us—and others. Soon, we find we are rejoicing in the realization that there is no limit to the good we can accomplish with this borrowed light. 

This line from an article included in Eddy’s Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 says it all, “The lives of great men and women are miracles of patience and perseverance. Every luminary in the constellation of human greatness, like the stars, comes out in the darkness to shine with the reflected light of God” (p. 340).

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.