REPORT FROM OUR CHRISTIAN
Happy Mother’s Day, to everyone who is or will be a mother, and to those who are not mothers in a human sense, but who are expressing all the nurturing qualities of our Father-MOTHER-God – whether male, female, adult or child, in whatever aspect of personal, academic, or professional life you see fit to mother your fellow man!
I’m glad to share this report on the mission-driven activity of the Christian Science Nurse Service of NH for 2021. Our theme --“How to gather, how to sow, how to feed Thy sheep,” to me acknowledges in simple terms that we stand always on holy ground, willing and ready to do good works wherever we are placed, and that we will be called to the work and guided every step of the way.
I am not working alone. Of course, none of us are, even when we are the sole person on a task or project. We always have our communion with God. And I appreciate finding this support expressed as the quiet presence of the Board of Directors supporting metaphysically and practically this holy healing work, managing the financial and legal aspects of the organization. One board member is assigned each month as a resource for the working Christian Science nurse to call on at any time there seems to be a need for metaphysical work to support our mission. I have called on them over the years many times for support for anything from simple scheduling issues, supply chain concerns, odd constellations of practical and logistical nonsense like malfunctioning computers, something hitting and spiderwebbing my windshield while driving to a case, or the need to accommodate urgent personal or family needs but having no relief staff available. All over the world there are Christian Science nurses in private practice managing all the logistics for their own Christian Science nursing practices without such a support team, and I’m so grateful to have the board bearing me up in both practical and metaphysical ways!
Each year I give a brief review of the year’s statistics. The numbers for 2020 were eye-poppingly dramatic – 2021 returned us to more typical levels of activity (and I am so very grateful for the respite!). Christian Science nurses working for the Service made 230 billable and 6 friendly visits, totaling 521 hours of care, 742 hours of traveling time, 391 administrative hours and 25,599 miles.
The public health climate still required physical precautions related to the pandemic but as Christian Scientists we apply discernment, seeking to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” We know when to “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” and how to “to suffer it to be so now” without letting these requirements confound our understanding. We know that these physical precautions are not the source of our protection, but we also have the wisdom to support the community around us. We still couldn’t send anyone to Tallwood House on weekends for outpatient care – but we found much lower needs for care visits on weekends.
Early in the year, when I experienced a mobility challenge that kept me in bed for 5 weeks, board member Pat Cameron coordinated with Journal-listed Christian Science nurses from nearby states to cover each day’s visits. Our own Sally Carruth (whom you’ll recall I’ve mentioned before as “trying to be retired”) filled in daily for the first two whole weeks and Elyssa Williams from Connecticut and Sally jointly covered the next, followed by Debi Brandt from Massachusetts, and Arta Stewart, who manages Tallwood House. All of them had full schedules of Christian Science nursing, family, church, and other commitments, which they adjusted in order to support our field’s needs. I experienced a complete healing and returned to full duty the 2nd week of March, not missing a day to illness of any kind since. At other times, Beatrix von Meier-Ince, and Joy Reges, a Christian Science nursing instructor from Tenacre, along with one of her students, covered some vacation time for me. The availability of Christian Science nursing described and required by the Manual of The Mother Church continued and still continues in the northern New England states without interruption.
In the community, the beginning of 2021 looked like more of 2020 until June, when New Hampshire’s governor reduced the state of emergency to a “public health incident” and restrictions began to be lifted. Christian Science nursing didn’t skip a beat. We never ceased or reduced our efforts during the lockdowns, knowing that the essential nature of our work not only allowed us but required us to continue, not cross to the other side, and that still hasn’t changed. We still comply with masking recommendations that apply in all healthcare situations. Mary Baker Eddy included in the Church Manual the statement, “God requires wisdom, economy, and brotherly love to characterize all the proceedings of the members of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist.” (Manual p77) It is wise to be cooperative, supporting public health and thereby protecting our practice of Christian Science and Christian Science nursing, from becoming a spectacle in the court of human opinion. There are few Christian Science nurses in our region and continuing this policy for the time being seems to be a wise, simple, practical way to avoid the necessity of quarantine if I were notified I’d been exposed, and test results were positive. To avoid entirely situations causing concerns about the nature and quality of our care is kind to our patients and their families, to my family, and to Christian Science nurses we would call in to cover our field, and it protects the Service as well.
There have been many opportunities to appreciate that sense of being guided into the right actions at the right time to support the healing that is already underway before I arrive. Patients’ family members often remark on the change in the atmosphere when there is a Christian Science nurse on the case. There’s a sense of calm certainty where chaotic doubt and fear seem to have been in command moments earlier. Sometimes people attribute the change to my mere presence, but it is no mythical superpower! It is spiritual vision, the treatment of my own thought about the case, my work, and the world’s needs with a singular focus on seeing the patient, the family around them, the strangers I have encountered in my day, as pure and perfect, upright and free. Whether there is a cleansing and bandaging need, or for help with personal care, assistance with bathing to get ready for the day, assessing the need for mobility support, giving nail care, assisting with meal selection and preparation, bringing a sense of order to the surroundings to improve safety, accessibility, and reduce the visual distractions, the larger need is to share in the sense of being in the presence of the healing Christ. Often, just my own awareness that the sparrow’s nest is already feathered brings that sense of calm and home and safe refuge that is needed.
A patient, a Christian Science practitioner and a Christian Science nurse working together is a manifestation of the promise in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” And where the Christ is, an improved sense of dominion is sure to follow, and with that, healing.
Earlier I said there were 230 billable and 6 friendly visits made – please take note that is fewer than 1 per day. We have the capacity to come and be witness to more healings – anyone who is radically relying on Christian Science, working with a Journal-listed Christian Science practitioner, and free from medication, medical therapies, or medical supervision is eligible to employ the Service – so please invite us! Our increased availability means that some of the simpler care activities such as nail care for both hands and feet can easily fit into our schedule. You don’t have to go to a podiatrist or a nail salon to have basic fingernail and toenail care.
Some possible reasons to call – someone close to you seems to be neglecting personal care; or you’re having difficulty getting in and out of a bathtub safely; or moving around inside and outside of the home. Perhaps it would be especially helpful to have the Bible Lesson or other Christian Science materials read to you or with you. If it has come to you to call on a Christian Science nurse, or your family or Christian Science practitioner is asking you to do so, you’re being offered the opportunity to enlist the aid of an experienced Christian Scientist to come and bear witness to healing with you. Our Father-Mother knows the need before we ask, but we do need to ask, because it makes us ready to receive and take to heart the blessings. Sometimes my visits feel like nothing more complicated than showing a little sparrow that her nest is already feathered. “From earth’s fears and vain alarms, Safe in His encircling arms, He will keep us all the way, God, our refuge, strength and stay.” (Hymn 53) Our theme for the coming year is from that same hymn, “Everlasting arms of Love, Are beneath, around, above.” I’m looking forward to seeing how our demonstration of this unfolds and I invite you to join me. Respectfully submitted, Paula M. Brensinger, Christian Science Nurse