From 1995-2005 I lectured extensively and worked with the press to share with the public correct information on Christian Science. These activities brought me into close and frequent contact with author Gillian Gill. Many times I heard her tell of her experience of how she came to write her 1999 biography titled, Mary Baker Eddy.
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.
Now, for most of us a strong will can be a dangerous thing. Perhaps we aren't as disciplined as was she in turning to divine Love for direction and molding personal will to God's. It was this continuous search for the divine will that protected Mary Baker Eddy from the dangers of misdirected human will. She was ever-ready to reverse herself in an instant under divine direction.
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?
Limiting our point of view and actions to the unfoldment of a particular date and time, we may become fixed, inflexible and stuck in a narrow groove. We might lose the freshness, crispness, the bright white cleanliness of being on the cutting edge of God’s self-revealing activity. But the prophet Isaiah offers insights into how to maintain freshness and resiliency in ourselves and break free of an oppressive mortal will. He wrote, "Shake thyself from the dust, arise and sit down.”
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
“Arise” and “sit down” are two opposite instructions. To obey them demands mental flexibility - a willingness to take new direction from God and adjust position instantly. This mental resiliency allows work to be accomplished like we’ve never seen before. We move from what a personal “I” is doing to what the divine “I am” is reflecting in us.
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.
If you find you are thinking the same thoughts, holding the same opinions, doing the same things the same way or repeating patterns from 10, 20, 30 years ago; if you find yourself thinking you have had enough, that it is time to wind down or give up on life: Shake off the dust. Stand up and sit down. Thought must and can move. God who is divine Life is speaking to you of your resilience. Divine Life is calling you, leading you up and on. You have a particular mission. You are called to new thoughts and a bigger life by Life, God. Discover your resilience and freshness. It's a new day.
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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