Thursday, February 21, 2013

Guest Column - John Wellsman

                                              Good, Better, Best...

Some may remember the old Sears & Roebuck mail order catalogs which in pre-internet days offered a vast array of merchandise to those unable to visit large retail outlets.  Part of Sears' marketing strategy was to offer many items in three quality/feature levels:  good, better, best to accommodate the widest possible range of customer pocketbooks.

The "good, better,  best" paradigm came to thought recently in working out some challenges through prayer in Christian Science.  It unfolded somewhat along these lines:  First there was a yearning, "Dear Heavenly Father, what do I need to know?"  Though some comforting thoughts came, it was clear that deeper prayer was needed.  This is not to say that many fine healings aren't experienced with just that heartfelt outreach; however it was clear to me that more was needed.

The next line of prayerful thought that opened up was, "What is God telling me about this situation?"  This led to some deeper reflection with each of the synonymns of God as given in the Christian Science Textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy:  Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.  (p. 465:10)  Many thoughts unfolded as each synonymn was considered individually.  For example:  What is Mind, God, telling me about this situation?  What is God, Spirit telling me about the situation?  It became clear He, Spirit, certainly wasn't telling me about the material picture!  Comforting as these revelations were, it was still clear that greater depth was required.

Soon this thought occurred:  "What does God know about this?"  Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science has written:  "For God to know, is to be; that is, what He knows must truly and eternally exist."  In her book, "No and Yes" (p. 16:1) and further on page 16 she continues:  "He is Mind: and whatever He knows is made manifest, and must be Truth."  Again taking the synonyms, I asked myself:  "What does God, Life know about this?  What does God, Love know about this?"   This brought the thought that God, the All in all, Life certainly doesn't know about death nor does He know about hatred.  Thus death and hatred cannot possibly exist.  Many more thoughts along these lines unfolded with each of the synonyms.  Indeed many passages from Science and Health were illuminated with fresh, new understanding as well.

How does this relate to the "good, better, best" strategy?  Simply this:  asking "What do I need to know" is good, and has been very effective in many a prayer so it is certainly a good start; however it may suggest separation between God and man.  It also implies healing is dependent on our own, personal understanding.  Or something that needs to be done by, for, or to the one petitioning.  When one begins to ponder, "What is God telling me?" that's better as we can begin to see it's no dependent on our own understanding, but there still may be a suggestion of separation.  Or that we need to do something with what He tell us.  Like He is there and I'm here and he's telling someone separate from Him who may need to do something themselves.  Again, many wonderful healings have occurred at this level of prayer but it may not be the best that can be done.

Asking, "What does God know about this?" brings us to the "best" level of prayer as we can begin to see that what He knows truly exists as Mrs. Eddy has stated in the above quotation from "No and Yes."  Whatever truly exists must exist in the state which God knows and it must exist in that state now.  We are no longer trying to accomplish something that needs to be done, we are aligning ourselves with what already exists, with God Himself.

As we become conscious of true existence, we are aligning our consciousness with God, Mind and thus are thinking as God knows.  In turn our existence becomes the true existence of the one Mind, God.

Deeply pondering, "What does God know about this?" can bring about the most profound changes in our lives including long-sought physical healings.  And is not this the "best" level of prayer?

(John is a long-time friend who lives in Tucson, Arizona.  He's also a photographer and has this website:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How comforting it is

How comforting it is
to learn what Jesus knew,
that our heavenly Father
knows what is best,
not only in things large,
but in all the rest,
that with Him, always,
the i's are dotted,
the t's crossed.
Nothing that concerns
our joy and harmony
is ever overlooked.
How could it be,
with the all-knowing and
infinite Mind in charge?
Yet it amazes me,
and I know it shouldn't,
given all I've seen God do,
the ways He brings us through,
that whatever the problelm we face,
made-to-order solutions do appear.
But we have to know
that almighty God can do this --
do our part,
take to heart --
this divine command:
"Look unto me, and be ye saved,
all the ends of the earth:
for I am God, and there is none else."
(Isaiah 45:22)

No matter how dense
that thicket before you,
take this thought along today:
your Father who loves you dearly
can to the right solution show the way.

Is this not comforting?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Developing an eye for Truth

                                           (John Robert Howell)

I was looking at some Magic Eye pictures recently, and realized they offer an excellent example of how Truth can operate in our thought and thus be expressed in our lives and bodies.

As you may know Magic Eye pictures are what appear at a glance to be nothing more than random patterns of color or colored shapes.  But if one stares at these pictures in the right way a three dimensional picture will suddenly appear.  The 3-D image was there all the time; it merely had to be allowed to come into focus.  For some viewers seeing the hidden image the first few times may be frustratingly difficult.  And, significantly, it can't be forced.  On the contrary, to stare too intently or too long only makes it impossible for the 3-D image to appear.  When it comes, it comes unforced and often with surprising ease.

So what does all this have to do with prayer and healing?  What Magic Eye pictures illustrate is a basic truth in Christin Science, that no matter what or where affliction seems to  be, Truth, spiritual reality, is already right there.  When, through prayer and seeing spiritually instead of materially, the truth snaps into focus, it operates in our consciousness effortlessly and decisively to overcome and displace any problem or obstacle we may be facing.  And, just as with the Magic Eye pictures, once we've succeeded in seeing and applying Truth it becomes easier and more natural each time we repeat the process.

But just how and why does this happen?  Picture yourself for a few moments as a math student trying to solve a complex problem.  Your repeated attempts to find the correct approach to the problem  have led only to dead ends.  You then study again the relevant mathematical principles and rules which apply to this type of problem.  You ponder how to apply them.  Then, suddenly, you see how to go about working out the solution.

Once the correct approach is seen and the problem solved, where did all those dead-end attempts go?  They obviously didn't go anywhere, for they never had any reality.  The failed attempts were only an inability to see the correct approach, which was there all the time.  It just needed to  become apparent.

Your physical and personal problems and challenges, no matter what they are, can be approached and solved or healed in just the same way using divine Science intead of mathematics.  When we pray, we ask God to uncover the ignorance or misunderstanding in our thinking and show us the way to a solution.  As omnipotent Mind and Truth, God provides the answer to any problem we face.  Like the math student we too will probably need to review and ponder relevant truths from the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy.  But if humble, sincere, and patient, we will be shown the answer, which will be right where the problem seems to be.  And at the instant of unfoldment, the illusion of discord will simply vanish into its inherent nothingness.

Why?  It should be obvious that in the case of a problem in mathematics, no dead-end approach or incorrect solution has any power to prevent or obscure the discovery of the correct approach to and accurate computation of the right answer.  Because infinite Truth, the correct answer to any human need or problem, is God, omnipotence, it instantly and automatically displaces any lie of sickness, disease, fear, failure, or insecurity which may confront us.  Truth is always present, real, and powerful.  Error, evil, and affliction are always illusory, unreal, and powerless.  That is why they disappear the instant God, Truth, becomes apparent to thought.

Christ Jesus never saw or acknowledged mortal, material, sick, sinful, or limited humanity.  Had he done so he would have been unable to heal and help them as he did.  His keenly developed spiritual senses and understanding saw only the man of God's creating--perfect and whole--right where others saw only an afflicted man or woman.

At some point in our spiritual progress we will need to do some spiritual wresting with and take a firm mental stand for the Truth revealed and taught to us by Christ Jesus, but if prayer for ourselves should become a kind of pointless, unavailing trench warfare and bitter, hand-to-hand combat with a problem as if it were a powerful reality, we are not letting Truth come naturally into view and win the day for us.  When David confronted the fearsome Goliath he said to him:  "...the Lord saveth not with sword and spear:  for the battle is the Lord's, and he wil give you [Goliath] into our hands."  (1 Samuel 17:47)  The subsequent human victory over Goliath was almost anticlimatic, the nearly effortless flinging of a single stone.

David obviously listened prayerfully to God and followed His instructions with natural and unlabored obedience.  Nothing was humanly forced or won through desperate and uncertain conflict.  We too can gain and experience this unwavering reliance on God through study of the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, prayer, and practice.

Remember how the 3-D image in the Magic Eye pictures was said to appear right where the random pattern of colors seemed to be?  Healing as well can be understood as seeing only God's whole, healthy, spiritual man right where a sick, sinful, or afflicted man seems to be.  In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way:  "Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals."  (p. 476:32-2)

When we thus see ourselves as God always sees and knows us, the problem, no matter what it is, must and will disappear.  The metaphysical poet George Herbert (1593-1633) pointed to this seeing through error when he wrote in his poem "The Glance":  "What wonders shall we feel when we shall see/Thy full-eyed love!/When Thou shalt look us out of pain,/ And one aspect of Thine spend in delight/ more than a thousand suns disburse in light,/ In heaven above."

So the coming of healing and hope need not, and should not, be the result of an exhausting and fearful struggle, but the sudden, comforting appearance of light, truth, where there seemed to be only darkness, suffering, and confusion.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Case of Healing

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, its author Mary Baker Eddy writes of a man who had felt the transforming touch of Christ, Truth this way:  "His form was erect and commanding, his countenance beaming with health and happiness.  Divine Love had cast out fear.  Mortal Man, no longer sick and in prison, walked forth, his feet 'beautiful upon the mountains,' as of one 'that bringeth good tidings.'"  (page 442)

This describes perfectly someone I know who felt he had been let out of a prison of ill health when he turned to Christian Science for help.  This individual grew up in Ohio in a religious home where God was worshipped and served in the best way they knew.  However, as a young man, he came down with a very serious physical condition that made it impossible for him to carry on a normal life.  He spent months on end too ill and weak to even go for a drive in the car. 

At this point (and it turned out to be a glorious turning-point for him), a kind neighbor told him about Christian Science, that many had been healed through the understanding of God and man it had brought them.  They recommended that he get a copy of Science and Health which was done for him.  He began to read and think about what he was reading.  His healing was not rapid at all.  But little by little,  he began to recover strength and health.  And oh what a wonderful day it was he once told me when he could actually go out in the car for a ride.  He continued to regain his health, and finally was completely and permanently healed.

What is remarkable to me about this man is that he became a Christian Science practitioner very soon after his restoration to good health and has healed countless men and women.  This experience left him radiating health and energy and love--so much so that people can't help remarking on it.

I'm not stretching the point when I say that what Mary Baker Eddy's discovery has done for this man, it can do for you.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Beauty surrounds us

One crisp autumn evening near sunset, we were leaving a scenic national park after a lovely day of sight-seeing.  As the car wound through the darkening mountains, I couldn't help reflecting on the brilliant, flaming foliage we had seen on every side, now obscured by nightfall.

"If someone drove through these mountains now, he would be completely unaware of the beauties surrounding him," I thought.  Then it occurred to me how often because of darkened, material views of creation we are unaware of the limitless, spiritual good at hand.

Mary Baker Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scripture (p. 304): "It is ignorance and false belief, based on a material sense of things, which hide spiritual beauty and goodness."  Through a study of Christian Science many are gaining spiritual enlightenment that not only dispels darkness and fear but reveals the abundance of joy, peace, and dominion that are man's by reflection.

This Science teaches that man is the creation, the very expression, of God, Soul, and fully reflects the divine attributes of loveliness, wholeness, and satisfaction.  In the realm  of Soul, where man really dwells, all is continuously controlled by God's law of harmony and beauty.

Christ Jesus looked upon each individual as a child of God.  He beheld each one in his true spiritual light and loveliness.  Despite the mortal pictures of sin, sickness, and disfigurement often presented to him, our Master was able to differentiate between the erroneous, mortal concept of man and the genuine child of God.

Where unenlightened, mortal eyes could see only distortion and ugliness, Jesus beheld the spiritual perfection of the real man.  This Christly perception restored the sick and repentant sinner to their original wholeness and beauty.  This same spiritual perception, or understanding, is today available to any humble seeker for Truth, as many students of Christian Science are proving.

"Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" prayed the Psalmist (Psalm 119:18).  As we pray for increased spiritual discernment, desiring to see only God's perfect creation, we will find the heavenly light of spiritual understanding dispelling the darkness of material thinking.  Discord, disease, and unloveliness cannot long abide in the experience of one whose thought has been illumined by the light of Christ.

There are no human circmstances so hopelessly dark that the omnipotent glow of spiritual perception cannot penetrate.  Even as the first rays of morning sunlight reveal the loveliness of the material universe, so a glimpse of infinite Truth pierces material views and brings clearly into focus the glorious handiwork of our heavenly Father.

Friday, February 8, 2013

"Fear not," "Be not afraid"

"Fear not," "Be not afraid,"
our Lord and Master taught.
Christ's divine Science helps us
do what Jesus said we ought.

Christ-informed, spiritually enlightened,
we can have now rightful demonstration
of the fearlessness that belongs to all
as divine Mind's own manifestation.
For man is Mind-created and encompassed
             -- held intact and dear --
and there is nothing in God's infinitude
for Mind's idea, man, to fear.

For we are God's and have His Mind,
our thoughts from Him reflected.
Claiming and understanding this,
we are from harm and fear protected.

Let me repeat:
There is no fear in God
nor in His image, you and me.
Accepting this as gospel truth,
we cannot help but see
truth do what Jesus said it would:

             Expose fear's unreality,
                 Strike off mental chains,
                     Make us safe and oh so free!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

When God chastens us

After God's chastening is over,

What then for one is left?

Many things, worth more than gold.

And crowning them all must be

The dawning, "He did what He did

Out of love for me."

Removing those things that

Stand between us and Him

Can leave one feeling punished, bereft;

But when process divine has run its course,

Is perfected, and at last is through,

What thoughts of praise and awe there are.

And we may even wonder,

Is this the way angels feel about You?

                           "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord;
                                     neither be weary of his correction:
                            For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth;
                                          even as a father the son
                                          in whom he delighteth."

                                            (Proverbs 3:11, 12)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

God is always at hand

                                              (John Robert Howell)

Yes, God is always at hand.  Every moment, good is as near as a call for help.  Our heavenly Father can show, step by step, the how, where, and when of the solution to any problem. 

So many people have, on some shelf, desk, or table, what could be called an owner's manual for life:  the Bible.  It can help you retrieve something lost, give you the faith and understanding you need to heal a disease, or assist you in achieving financial security and stability.  Finding the revelation of what God is in the Bible means it's no longer one step forward and three steps back (or even two forward and one back), but one steady step of progress.  Our lives can be changed for the better.

Maybe your immediate reaction is that you probably have more problems than God has solutions.  But God is all-knowing and all-powerful.  In the words of the Bible:  "He is in one mind, and who can turn him?  and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.  For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me:  and many such things are with him"  (Job 23:13, 14).  Beginning to accept this assurance helps -- being patient and humble and trusting enough to listen for spiritual intuition.  God is the divine Mind:  His spiritual intelligence is equal to any problem we face, physical or emotional.

What you'll be listening for, waiting for, is not some ecstatic, mystical experience.  It's a surety that God is here, that there's hope, that this or that is the direction to go in, the path to take.  Life improvement can come instantly or incrementally through such moments of inspiration.  This includes the healing of sickness.  It may come in an epiphany -- or through a small, quiet thought.  The bottom line is that to the sincere, prayerful heart, help will come.

If you are still feeling like you're drifting helplessly and aimlessly in life's latitudes, then something known as kedging is worth considering.  Kedging is using an anchor to move a becalmed boat.  For a large boat, the anchor has to be carried out some distance by another boat; for a small boat, the anchor can simply be thrown as far as possible from the boat itself.  In either case, the anchor line is then pulled on from within the boat - and the boat slowly advances toward the point of anchorage.  It's obviously slow and laborious.  But it permits advancement, however modest.

What does this have to do with God?  When all else fails in your life, if all you do is grasp one comforting fact about God -- some Bible passage or a favorite hymn -- and kedge with it, pull on it, you'll advance. Not only that, freshening breezes and favorable currents may  come to your assistance sooner than you expect.

Maybe you'll remember a scene in the movie "The African Queen", where Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn are lying exhausted and despondent in their boat.  They've been struggling with all they've got to sail out of the jungle, and they've given up.  They're grounded in mud and rushes.  Then the camera lifts, and we see that they're in fact only a few scant yards from the wide-open water, where it will be smooth sailing !

It's a little like that when we ask God to guide us out of the doldrums.  "Be active, and however slow, thy success is sure: toil is triumph..." wrote Mary Baker Eddy ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 340).  Solutions may seem to come to thought slowly, and only through a determined pulling of the anchor line.  But progress will come.  And because God's intelligence and love are fundamentally the cause of all progress, we can expect it to get less labored, more natural -- more inspired.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

No need to put yourself down

There are many people among us who yearn to use their talents more widely.  But they lack what it takes needed to do this. 

Take a friend of mine who paints.  Jean Anne loves art, paints well (in my non-artist view), and would dearly love to show her work somewhere.  She actually calls her paintings her "babies" (which those of us who write or paint or sculpt or do something else creative can appreciate).  Alas, as she said to me yesterday, "I'm afraid to take the steps I should.  Just don't have much self-confidence."

We talked for a long while, and I found myself sharing some spiritual truths with her, things I've learned from my study of Christian Science.  Perhaps some of the following will be of help to you as well.  Your own life may need to be much more rewarding than it now is.

I firmly believe that every last one of us has talents he or she could be developing and expressing.  What can a person do to bring latent abilities to light?  One can gain a deeper understanding of man's true naure as the child of God.

In First John in the Bible is this powerful statement:  "Beloved, now are we the sons of God" (3:2).  You and I are God's very likeness, His spiritual offspring.  And since we were formed by God for the purpose of showing forth His nature, we all have an essential role to play in God's plan.

Just how much we mean to our heavenly Father was clear to our Master, Christ Jesus.  He said, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?  and one of them shall not fall on the ground without our Father...Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29, 31).

Created for the purpose of expressing God, you and I (and everyone else) are not only valuable, we are absolutely indispensable.  In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes:  "If God, who is Life, were parted for a moment from His reflection, man during that moment there would be no divinity reflected.  The Ego would be unexpressed, and the Father would be childless, -- no Father" (p. 306).

With God's help, any person can discover what he or she is truly worth.  We can wake up to the divine facts that God, divine Mind, is forever expressing Himself in His offspring and that we therefore already include all we possibly could need for our usefulness and satisfaction.  Understanding this about ourselves, we'll see more of the God-bestowed abilities that always have belonged to us come to light.  And the happy result will be a richer, fuller life expressing God.

Let me repeat.  Our reason for existing is to reflect God, to put to use the spiritual qualities that compose our true nature.  And since those qualities are spiritual, they are unlimited and constantly available to us.  Gaining more of the dynamic knowledge Jesus had of man as the complete, loved, valuable child of God will remove inactivity, mediocrity, frustration, from our lives.  It will clear the way for a more effective use of the talents and everpresent possibilities each of us has as God's child.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"As adherents of Truth..."

                                             (John Robert Howell)

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God [Heb 10:31]; but a blessed thing it is, and will bring us to everlasting blessedness in the end, when God speaketh unto us, to hearken; when He setteth His Word before us, to read it; when He stretcheth out His hand and calleth, to answer, Here am I; here we are to do thy will, O God. 
The Lord work a care and conscience in us to know Him and serve Him..."

For this quote I am indebted to James Moffatt, who directed me to its source, the "Preface of the Translators to the Reader" of the King James (Authorized) Version 1611, of the Bible, in his magesterial and eloquent "Introduction" to  his own inspired translation of the Bible.  Though fairly lengthy, this Preface should be a part of every KJV/AV Bible, but shamefully, almost never is.  Instead, we get without fail the short, somewhat fawning, and largely irrelevant (today) "Epistle Dedicatory".

To attempt to comment or elaborate on the above passage would be impertient.  The humility, dedication, and scholarship of those translators shines throughout their Preface and their glorious translation and attests to their selfless dedication and diligence.  Given the enormous sacrifices so many have made over the centuries to bless mankind with translations of this priceless book, any Christian Scientist who gives or has given the Bible short shrift should be mortified at this apostasy.  A good annotated version of the Preface is available on the internet and is well worth perusing at least once.

The indelible importance of the King James Version (AV) of the Bible to Christian Scientists and the glow of the Preface puts upon it make a felicitous topic for this posting.  "As adherents of Truth, we take the inspired Word of the Bible as our sufficient guide to eternal Life."  Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.