The only thing left was Love
During my last year at a summer camp for Christian Scientists, I’m pretty sure I could have been voted “Least likely to remain a Christian Scientist.”
How things had changed! When I was twelve, I’d joined The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. At thirteen, I was considered dependable enough in my grasp of Christian Science to substitute teach younger Sunday School students. I loved spiritual truth and was devoted to it.
Four years later, I was questioning everything I’d once held dear. The Bible had become a book full of contradictions and dubious sayings. The writings of Mary Baker Eddy left me with more questions than answers, and my Sunday School teacher’s explanations didn’t seem to help.
The Bible had become a book full of contradictions.
My academic education taught me how to reason from what is tangible. So the more aware I became of history and the goings-on in the world, the harder it was to believe in a supreme and loving God. My own healings and small experiences of divine Love paled in the face of so much global human misery. Why should I be relieved of “swimmer’s ear” through prayer when children in another part of the world were impoverished or living in the strife of war? What sort of God was in charge of that?
At that point I was pretty sure I knew better than anybody at church or camp. When I got to college that fall, I made one visit to the local branch Church of Christ, Scientist, and, finding it sparsely peopled and sort of musty, stopped attending altogether.
But as time went on, my desire to find a deeper sense of purpose and to make sense of those childhood healings got stronger. I studied philosophy, practiced meditation, and investigated other religions, but all these stopped short of an all-encompassing truth. Along the way I had to deal with a lot of illness, and neither alternative nor mainstream medicine helped.
In the midst of a sickness that had left me bedridden, I was still yearning to understand. With nothing but time on my hands, again I compared religious theories and thought about physics and the arguments of atheism. But nothing felt quite complete or right.
One night found me mentally going through everything I thought I knew and tossing out whatever I’d accepted based on the opinions or theories of others. Whatever I couldn’t find experiential proof for in my own life got put to the side. School learning, artistic interpretation, literary opinion, and whatever I’d ever seen disproved—even if in a small way—I rejected, wondering if in the end there would be anything left.
As it turned out, there was. It was divine Love. Love that had been there in spite of adverse circumstances and regardless of my worthiness. I had a sense of having been cared for that transcended material conditions. This sense of Love was so clearly divine and not of my own creation or imagination. It brought a profound peace, and soon after, healing.
The healings and the demonstrations of God’s goodness in my life were a glimpse of a far greater, spiritual good—the ever-present love of God.
The experience was familiar and made me feel like a child again—in the best way. Going back to my old copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, I found explanations that now made sense. I also found a spiritual demand that needed attention. There was a choice to be made: to live from this new/old revelation of spiritual reality or go back to business as usual. The way forward was clear to me now. The healings and the demonstrations of God’s goodness in my life had not been incidents of divine intervention or personal deserving, but a glimpse of a far greater, spiritual good—the ever-present love of God.
After that turning point, things got a lot simpler, although not always easy. But as this hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal puts it:
From sense to Soul my pathway lies before me,
From mist and shadow into Truth’s clear day;
The dawn of all things real is breaking o’er me,
My heart is singing: I have found the way.
(Violet Hay, No. 64, © CSBD)