Have you ever found yourself in such a dark place that you have wondered if there was truly a way out?
I have been thinking about the Bethlehem star
. On the blackest night, a beam of light illuminated the place where the Christ child lay.
Was this Jesus’ star? I always thought so. But the prophet-shepherds and wisemen saw it and followed. I now believe that star belonged to them
and it belongs to each of us
In a Christmas message, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science
, wrote, “The star that looked lovingly down on the manger of our Lord, lends its resplendent light to this hour: the light of Truth, to cheer, guide, and bless man as he reaches forth for the infant idea of divine perfection dawning upon human imperfection, — that calms man's fears, bears his burdens, beckons him on to Truth and Love and the sweet immunity these bring from sin, sickness, and death.” Miscellaneous Writings, 320
I remember a time when mental darkness was threatening to take me out. As much as I longed to, I couldn’t see a way forward. In a particularly desperate moment, I felt the impetus to become completely still
. Then, I realized that I didn’t have a personal mind with personal thoughts that needed to be controlled. I could trust that the one divine Mind, my real and only Mind, knew everything for and about me. I could have confidence that Mind, God knew me as His child, all good - only good - and I could trust Him with the details of revealing what that meant.
I felt safe.
I fell asleep, and upon waking, I found I’d broken free of the fixating depression. In the next hours and days I followed God's illuminating presence
, thought by thought, from darkness to light. My thoughts were clear and directed. I stayed with the fact of Mind as the unopposed knower and revealer of all the good in my life until I was well.
in the eastern sky
Saw a pale star passing by,
Guiding them at break of day
Where the babe in meekness lay,
Born the gracious news to tell,
God with us, Immanuel.
Star of being, still thy light
Shines before us in the night,
By those radiant beams we find
Christ, the Truth, for all mankind. Marion Susan Campbell
Christian Science Hymnal, #11 This post first appeared a year ago on this blog. It has been edited for this repost, as my mastery of English writing impoves bit by bit.
A glorious day is dawning, and o'er the waking earth...In dark and hidden places there shines the blessed light;The beam of Truth displaces the darkness of the night.
Christian Science Hymnal, #2 As Christmas comes again, I find it interesting that we celebrate Christmas in December, even though Bible scholars generally agree that Jesus was probably born in the spring. Those of us in the northern hemisphere are experiencing the darkest of days, yet, in the Christian, Gnostic and Jewish traditions, we're commemorating and celebrating the presence of light.
Our daughter, Susan, decided to come for a visit and help with some chores. It was a wonderful. Most touching was getting the Christmas tree in and up! We decorated it with lots of lights. Since 9/11 we have decorated only with lights as a way to remember to pray for those whose lives were changed on that day. However, when I came across a box of old decorations, we had a great time looking at them and remembering past Christmases. We felt it was time to add them to the lights, so this year we did.
When I pulled out a little angel
from the box, Susan got all excited. “You put the date on this one and it’s my birth date! I was just 6 months old that Christmas!” Even though the little angel had lost its shine and its left wing was broken, there was just one place for it - the place of honor at the top of the tree.
The first year I hosted the dinner, I prepared way too much food. The day after, I spontaneously called up a few friends and invited them to come to help us eat the leftovers, and suggested we could go out Christmas caroling before the meal. Most everyone accepted with enthusiasm. But one couple asked if they could come to the meal but skip the singing. Knowing that we lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, they were concerned that our neighbors would be offended by the carols.
For many years, Our large immediate family would gather at my home every year for a holiday meal mid-December. This allowed for each couple to have Thanksgiving and Christmas with their kids and in-laws in their own homes, but also gave us a chance to have a special day together.
Grandma's and Grandpa’s house
where we would have lunch and more gift opening.
On one particular Christmas day, sitting around the lunch table, Grandma asked for volunteers to say grace
. Five year old Matthew - generally a very quiet boy – offered to pray. This is how it went:
“Thank you, God
, for all the gifts we got, and for all the ones we’re going to get!”
When our children were small, our tradition was to have breakfast, open the gifts, and play with the toys for awhile. It was a busy, happy, noisy time with five children! Then we piled into the station wagon for the drive to
A study of Phillips Brooks'
famous hymn "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem
" uncovers a little secret. In the original manuscript of the carol there was a fourth verse rarely used in hymn books. Doctrinal elements in the original verse led to some criticism, prompting Brooks to remove it from the carol altogether. However, the fourth verse
was published in The English Hymnal
(1906), Songs of Praise
(1925), and The Oxford Book of Carols
(1928), and elements of it continue to appear to this day in The Christian Science Hymnal
, where parts of the original second and fourth stanzas are joined to form one verse.
I have enjoyed conversing with a dear friend on the subject of spirituality and Christian Science. She is a very spiritually-minded physician. I’ll never forget our first conversation.It began as we left a parking lot at the end of a shopping trip and went on for a total of three hours as we sat in the car in my driveway.
I wouldn’t say we’ve had many conversations on spirituality, but rather just one on-going conversation in many venues, - sitting side by side on the beach, via e-mail, or face to face across a table. We just pick up where we left off, sharing ideas and resources that inspire us and talking about how we’ve applied these ideas in our daily lives. I love it!
Recently we were discussing the subject of angels. She said that she only thinks of angels at Christmas time. Images of angels do especially fill the landscape at Christmas, don’t they? Heavenly, sweet-faced, ethereal individuals clothed in white flowing garments, with wings, wearing a halo, holding a harp.
Realizing that in referring to angels perhaps we weren’t talking about the same thing, I told her that we needed to stop for a moment and define our terms.
.. Read moreTo read the rest, please visit Diane's new blog on her new website. This is her first official post!
One needs only look at the Cabbage Patch doll phenomenon of 1984, the Talking Elmos of the 1990’s, the Pokemon craze of 2000 and today’s hot search for the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet, to see that parents and children are often carried away on pressure-driven marketing currents as Christmas approaches. There’s nothing like shopping at the last minute for a popular gift that is only available in limited quantities. Fear of disappointing a child, or even an adult, can leave one vulnerable to all kinds of desperate tactics (even pepper spray, as in recent cases!) No matter how extreme the pressure may be, there is a spiritual perspective that can broaden what look like limited options and can ultimately meet any need. In fact, unless we step back and get this better perspective, we won’t really accomplish what we so much desire: to bring joy to someone we love. Instead, we’ll end up worn down and empty-handed.
Lights and cards and gifts and pageants. Baking and organizing and decorating and shopping. Parties to attend. Lists to follow. How do you care for yourself when holiday activities reach a fever pitch
mid-December?The Apostle Paul recommends prayer. He said that in praying, "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
But is the most effective approach to prayer merely a pleading for respite from the frenetic pace? I have prayed that way on occasion, but was never really satisfied by it. The prayer that truly rests and refreshes
involves affirming, and coming to feel, the all-power and all-presence of divine Love, omniscient Mind, all-need-supplying-Spirit. And it can make a huge difference.
For me, Christmas
, more than New Year's, is all about a fresh start. Any move in a new direction begins with a thought open and receptive to changing, to responding, to growing. When thought shifts, lives tend to follow. And the Christmas season
gives us so much opportunity to shift away from fear and limitation and the mundane sameness of everyday and to reflect on the Christ.
As one considers the living presence of the power of God, Good, mental doors can open to His divine light, His multi-colored, many-faceted opportunities, and His healing influence. A Christmas of new views
can lead to a New Year of sparkle - of unfolding good. Christmas
2003 had been a quiet one. I had been widowed a few years and was settled in a new home. Our daughter was now an adult. My life had become simplified and settled, and I felt that room was being made for something new but I wasn't sure what it would be. I was feeling hesitant and a little afraid. So, during December, I had begun to study Jesus' life - reading the gospels and acquainting myself more with his healing mission - to open myself to the power of Christ in my own life.