Gertrude Stein wrote in her book Everybody's Autobiography (1937), "It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing."
I must say I do agree. At least it can look that way to an observer. And it often feels that way to the one going through the process of sitting, thinking, squirming, waiting, wondering, gazing out the window, staring at the wall, clipping fingernails, thinking... all the while waiting for some outward sign of forward movement.
Oh, how many times have I experienced just that. Each time I think I will discover some new way to circumvent the process. And then, here we go again.
A couple of years ago, I was in the middle of what looked and felt like a "doing nothing" patch. I had been staring at the walls for a decent chunk of time as January dragged into February. When it looked like February might pass into March without much to say for it, I reached out to a Christian Science practitioner for help.
Christian Science practitioners (like me) pray for people to help them out of stuck places in their lives. I wasn't sure what I was looking for from this prayer, other than the ability to trust that all this quiet, and thinking, and sitting, and doing nothing but scrutinize my white walls, was OK... And to know that I wasn't nuts. Because, frankly, I wondered what was wrong with me that nothing seemed to be going on in my life.
So she prayed for me until I saw the reinforcing power that develops in deep periods of quiet. I would describe what I saw this way:
Think of the formation of a wave. A wave develops well under the surface on the ocean floor. The current (think undertow, when it happens near the shore) pulls back, and finally pushes up, propelling the water forward with amazing force. We glory in the beauty of the activity on the surface, not always recognizing the invisible, silent, essential build-up of strength that precedes it.
I turn to Mary Baker Eddy for a clear description of the metaphysics of this wave development. She wrote, "Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, — wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, 323)
No matter what it looks like on the surface, something powerful is happening.
I have been a pusher all my life. But I love to think now of these strength-yielding pauses. I believe it is absolutely essential to allow oneself the mental space - white wall space - to pause, to be - to think and wonder and even squirm (!), - as one waits on the onward push of God, omniactive good.
Its not really a time thing. I have had pauses that last but a second before the next breakers of inspiration jettison me forward onto the shore of some new adventure or activity. Others have been long. Really long. What looked, up close, to be a two month pause a couple of years ago, was really the last momentum-gathering undertow at the end of a six year deep-think pause. But the force of that build-up has carried me through some of my most productive and interesting years yet.
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I became a writer in 1993. Well, actually, that is a lie. I became a published writer, with my first article appearing in a magazine, in 1993. I started writing years before. I just kind of stunk at it for a long while.
The evolution from writing to getting published involved a single-minded focus on my message, finding my voice, loving the reader enough to write in an understandable way, persisting, and a lot of getting over myself.
And not necessarily in that order.
Finding my subject and focus was never a problem. I wrote about what I loved - healing prayer. But sending in my first manuscript was a bit like sending a picture of my kid to the "Most Beautiful Baby" contest. I couldn't believe others didn't see it the way I did!
To sum up the politely written form letter that came back, in the fewest possible words, it read: No way, José.
So I did what any self-respecting writer, who was thrilled by the sound of her own writing voice, would do. I tweaked and snipped and primped and plumped the article, changed the title, and sent it in again. This time the response was more personalized: No way, José. And don't think you are fooling us. We know it is the same piece.
Well, I thought, at least they remember me!
*Betsy goes by her first name, Aimee, now. Same kid, earlier time!
My daughter Betsy* was just a kid when she tried to charm her dad into buying her a trampoline. “I have a great idea, Daddy,” was how such tactical discussions usually started. I was away on business, so he pulled out his well-rehearsed counter-pitch, “Wait ‘til Mom gets home and ask her.”
But this time she was ready for him. “No, Dad,” she replied flatly. “I get better deals out of you.”
He was astounded.
She didn’t get a trampoline that day. After all, a dad can’t cave to every pressure move! But about six months later, Betsy barreled into the house after a trip to the store and gleefully announced, “Guess what Daddy bought you for your birthday!”
To read the rest on this post, click this link to visit the JSH online site where it is republished!
"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.
Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands."
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