What grandmother isn’t delighted to help care for her newborn grandson? When my daughter asked me to help her with her new baby, I was a delighted grandmother! I had visions of holding the little one in a rocking chair, singing lullabies, putting him over my shoulder and patting him on the back.
There was just one wrinkle in this happy scenario. When I arrived at my daughter’s home, I was greeted by a very large, very black dog. And, as I soon discovered, a very ill dog.
My daughter and I hugged each other and she introduced me to Eli, an adorable, plump little boy, and to her dog, Pneuma, a not so adorable, skinny dog.
Very soon I had many opportunities to rock Eli in the rocking chair, pat him on the back, and change his diapers. It was fun! … but then there was that dog.
Since my daughter and son-in-law were taking some college courses during the day, it was up to me to care for baby and dog while they were away.
Pnuema refused to eat. He also, I discovered, tended to spit up on the floor from time to time. I had not bargained for dog clean-up duty. So I just covered those spit-up places with paper towels for my son-in-law to deal with when he got home.
I tried to get Pneuma to eat by putting some candy in his dog food. Maybe a little sweet taste would tempt him. Not so much. He walked away from his food dish.
Then I woke up. I realized that the trouble was not in the dog. It was in me. Instead of loving the dog, I was resenting him. I had been deceptive, trying to trick him into eating. I had selfishly left the clean-up duty to my son-in-law. And I was leaving this loved pet out of my prayers. This had to change! I vowed to embrace him in my daily spiritual study and prayer, and I began changing my attitude.
While I rocked the baby, I patted Pneuma on the head and my compassion for him deepened. I filled his dog dish with his favorite food and left it up to him to eat or not. And, I cleaned up after him, much to my son-in-law’s relief.
As I opened my spiritual guide-book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, I remembered it had something to say about the Bible term wind (pneuma in Greek). It is defined, in part, as that which indicates “the movements of God’s spiritual government, encompassing all things.” (p. 597).
It was a nice, sunny, breezy day so I grabbed a blanket, Pneuma, and the baby, and went outside to sit under a tree. I wanted to feel the gentle breeze and to ponder the spiritual meaning of wind (pneuma). I thought, God’s government surely is harmonious, orderly and just. It is perpetual and uninterrupted. It embraces each of us, governs all of us. I thought of Pneuma the dog as God’s perfect, spiritual creation, completely in His control. I felt a wave of assurance that all was well.
The next morning, when I came downstairs, Pneuma was standing in front of the dining room window, the sunlight filling the room. He looked like one of those scrawny, dying cows that one sees in photos of drought or famine. I thought: “Humph, that’s just a picture of death. It is not dog!”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ Jesus taught his disciples to heal with “Yes” and “No” thoughts – that is affirmations of God’s true creation, and firm and forthright denials of what has nothing to do with God’s good creative work (see Matthew 5:33-36). My prayers did just that. I recognized and affirmed the perfection of Pneuma as under the perfect control of God, and I saw perfectly clearly that disease had no part of God’s idea of a dog.
Pneuma began to eat that very day. He quit spitting up and quickly returned to normal health.
God loves every part of His spiritual creation. And when we reflect the love of the divine Love that is God, we become witnesses to pneuma, to the powerful healing government of God, that leaves no one and nothing out.
There is something about the name Susanna. I just love it! Black-eyed Susans grow abundantly in Virginia where I grew up. I remember them as cheerful little flowers that steadily bloomed, giving us their happy color most of the summer. My friend Susanna, visiting us in Paris from Virginia, is very much like those yellow flowers - fun and happy and continually blossoming with encouragement and cheer.
Seeing her reminded me of her namesake - Amanda Susanna Boccanfuso - our yellow Labrador. From the start, I knew that this little black-eyed butterball puppy was Susanna. Her sunny puppy disposition recommended her to us as a lifelong companion. And as her name promised, she cheered and bloomed perennially in our home for many years.
Names can be important. Names can help identify one's spiritual nature and bring it out.
I have practiced Christian Science professionally in
some form since 1979.
But my journey with
Christian Science started
in a Sunday school
where as a young child
I was taught the Scriptures and some simple basics
of Jesus' method of
scientific Christian healing.
A significant experience
at the age of twelve
opened my eyes to
the great potential
of this practice.
After impaling my foot
on a nail,
I prayed the way I had learned
in Sunday school.
the pain stopped
and healing began.
By the next morning the wound had disappeared completely.
the great potential
of Christian Science,
there would be no