"O gentle presence." How many times I've thought of those words. They open a poem written by Mary Baker Eddy, Mother's Evening Prayer, which begins:
O gentle presence, peace and joy and power;
O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour,
Thou Love that guards the nestling's faltering flight!
Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight. (Poems, 4)
“O gentle presence” are words that affirm that God is with us. Now. Forever.
I experienced this presence in a powerful way last year. It was the evening before a Memorial service for my husband who had passed on the week before. There were last minute decisions to be made. Some of our extended family had decided views that conflicted with mine. Sitting alone in the family room, I was mulling over the issues thinking I didn't need this problem.
I heard my daughter in the next room gathering pictures from photo albums, making plans to frame them. This was one item of minor contention – whether, and which, photos should be displayed. After a short period of ruminating, a tender quietness suddenly settled over me and enveloped the room. I felt a palpable presence that could only be divine. I knew it was God's gentle presence making me calm. Peace reigned in my heart. I felt it. I sat very still in wonder.
Suddenly, all the preparations and decisions were irrelevant to me. All I wanted was to hold onto this divine presence. All that mattered was this feeling of God with me. I encouraged my daughter to go ahead with her plans, assuring her that everything would be fine.
This peace stayed with me throughout the service the next day. And, of course, the display of family pictures was perfect, pleasing and comforting to everyone.
The peace, joy and power of God’s presence is the Christ, God's action of revealing Himself in unmistakeable ways we can understand, giving us just what we need, bringing healing. This divine presence doesn’t come and go. The Christ is always here with us all, all the time bringing peace and joy and power.
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I was surprised that our balloon had no sandbags attached to the side. I later learned that it is gas balloons, not hot air balloons, that use sandbags. And the removal of even a little bit of sand allows the balloon to rise.
I think the relation of sandbags to gas balloons provides a good metaphor for spiritual growth. Every handful of earth-weight (a material sense of persons and things) that we let go of, allows us to go higher and to experience true being as God knows it - resulting in steady ascension.
One of Mary Baker Eddy's pupils who was an editor of the Christian Science Journal, Annie Knott, once wrote:
Well dear one, you have no cause to doubt God's love for you and your child. And if He loves you He doeth all things that is (sic) for your good. But He does not destroy the work of His hands. You alone and all mortals are responsible for mortal conditions. They make them and they yield them up. Why do they give up what is so dear to them? Because they know not yet how to retain them as reality.
(From a letter to Annie Knott sent by her teacher, Mary Baker Eddy, on June 16, 1896. Knott typed a duplicate to the letter, to which she added and initialed the comment: "This I value more than any other. A.M.K."
The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, L04744):
When someone passes on, it isn't unusual to be drawn toward the poignant recollection of the ups and downs of our relationship with them. Sometimes deep appreciation surfaces. At other times wounds of regret or loss are laid bare. What can we do with the grief?
The Bible tells how the patriarch Abraham dealt with his wife Sarah's passing after a long and fruitful relationship. Abraham wept for her, but he didn't remain immobile with the heaviness of an unhealed grief. Noting this, The Interpreter's Bible concludes "It is not right that grief should be allowed to become a paralyzing bondage." (Abingdon Press, 1951-1957, Vol 1, p.649)
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.
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