When she was first approached by Radcliff University to consider taking on the subject for its Biography Series, Mrs. Gill said she really wasn’t interested. She had just lost her husband. She was in her fifties with grandchildren. She figured it was time to wind down, take it easy and live out the rest of her days gardening. But she didn’t say no immediately. Rather she researched the proposed subject, Mary Baker Eddy.
She learned that Mrs. Eddy’s own life really seemed to take off when she hit her fifties. At an age when nearly all her contemporaries shut themselves in for retirement, Mary Baker Eddy began to find her stride. In fact during each of four more decades, she made an exponentially larger contribution to the world.
This piqued Gill's interest. She accepted the commission for the biography with the purpose of figuring out how Mrs. Eddy did what she did. The project changed Gill's life, giving her a fresh start. She's been writing and contributing actively ever since.
So what did Mary Baker Eddy know that expanded, rather than diminished her productivity? First, she understood she had a divine calling – a spiritual purpose. Second, she had a certain flexibility and freedom from personal mortal will. She would turn on a dime when God pointed her to do something new.
That’s not to say she didn’t have a strong human will. She did. For those who have read the biographical book Painting a Poem: Mary Baker Eddy and James F. Gilman illustrate Christ and Christmas, it is apparent that artist James Gilman ran into her strong perspective often as they worked together. When Mary Baker Eddy felt God was directing, her will was iron-clad.
How many of us can say the same? If we aren't alert and disciplined, human willful opinions might swaddle us in limitation. Human will becomes mortal, that is -limited, deadly - when personal opinions and desires, personal ambition, repetitive patterns of negativity, or fixation on the past, take over and control our present acts. This mortal will can actually restrict and age us. Have you ever equated age with personal mortal will?
The full passage reads, “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion… Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands about thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion… My people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold it is I.” Isaiah 52:1,2,6
In her Miscellaneous Writings, Mrs. Eddy describes this as a mental condition that "settles into strength, freedom, deep-toned faith in God." She further explains, "It develops individual capacity, increases the intellectual activities, and so quickens moral sensibility that the great demands of spiritual sense are recognized, and they rebuke the material senses, holding sway over human consciousness.”
“By purifying human thought, this state of mind permeates with increased harmony all the minutiae of human affairs. It brings with it wonderful foresight, wisdom, and power; it unselfs mortal purpose, gives steadiness to resolve, and success to endeavor. Through the accession of spirituality, God, the divine Principle of Christian Science, literally governs the aims, ambition, and acts of the Scientist.” (Miscellaneous Writings, 204:15-30)
This "accession of spirituality" is what Gillian Gill found in her research into Mrs. Eddy, who she learned ceded her human will to the divine purpose and turned to God for guidance at all points. This kept Mrs. Eddy fresh and resilient. And look at what happened:
She wrote her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, along with 17 others. She made over 400 major and minor revisions to Science and Health over a 44 year period, throwing out words, changing vocabulary, defining, redefining, erasing, adding, adjusting her statement as she went along.
Seeking the freshest clearest way of explaining the Science she discovered, her thought was not stuck on one way of seeing and explaining Christian Science. When prayer and experience led her to a better way, she moved to follow. Consequently, Science and Health is not an old book. It is as fresh as the thought she continually brought to it. She was as much a student of the book as she was its author.
Science and Health will be as fresh to us as is the thought we continue to bring to it. As with the author, so with the reader, resilience and willingness to let God lead infuses Science and Health with a perennial freshness that allows it to stay up to date.
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