"For the last several years, I had had the privilege of working on two boards in support of Christian Science nursing. But I had never experienced what it was like to be cared for with such calm competence and no sense whatsoever that I was somehow damaged or injured. "
While hiking in the
My husband and I had plans to hike in the White Mountains, leaving home about 5 a.m. to get an early start on the trail. Instead, I woke up, wide awake, at 3 a.m. with a strong sense that I needed to study that week’s Lesson Sermon. I had recently been elected First Reader in our local branch church and had been praying about the Manual requirement that “The Readers of The Mother Church and of all its branch churches must devote a suitable portion of their time to preparation for the reading of the Sunday lesson, – a lesson on which the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends.”
I had planned to read the lesson on my cell phone driving up in the car. But this strong urge to pray more deeply signaled to me that “suitable preparation” wasn’t just checking off a box. There was something for me to see in that lesson for that day, and I wanted to see it. The subject of that lesson was “Man,” and it included the healing of the Shunammite woman and her son, including the three questions the prophet Elisha asked of her: “Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband? Is it well with the child?” I thought about those questions and the deep spiritual answers to them all the way up that difficult and beautiful mountain trail.
On the way back down, I fell down a steep stretch of rock, opening up a knee. My husband suggested going to an emergency room at least to bind up the wound. But we were still more than two steep and rocky miles from the parking lot and had been out of cell phone range for hours. The answer of the Shunammite woman to Elisha came to be with great conviction: “It is well.” It is well with me. It is well with a concerned husband. And the child? I had always skipped over that part because I had no child and thought it didn’t apply to me. Then, I recalled that Mary Baker Eddy wrote that “Christian healing is the babe we are to cherish.” (Mis. 370:15) All the inspiration of that early morning study and our daily lesson came to my support. While human support seemed far away, God is a very present help in trouble.
I called a Christian Science practitioner on my cell phone. The call went through clearly and strong. The practitioner answered immediately and assured me, with great love and conviction, that “nothing happened” and that she would get to work immediately to help me. I then called New Hampshire’s visiting Christian Science nurse, who also answered immediately. She was two appointments and many miles away from our location but agreed to wait for us in a parking lot on a spot that intersected both our routes home several hours later. I called back to clarify a point, but there was no further cell service until we were well off the mountain. Through all of this, even bumping down the slope, I felt no fear or shock. Even the prospect of walking down that mountain did not seem daunting. The hike down the mountain was, if this can be imagined, a joyful one. I knew I was already in God’s care. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for Christian Science and its all-embracing, quick and practical support.
When we finally regained phone service, reached the Christian Science nurse, and plugged in our various GPS coordinates, we found that despite the prospect of a long wait for one party, we would be reaching our common destination 5 minutes apart. And so we did.
For the last several years, I had had the privilege of working on two boards in support of Christian Science nursing. It gave me a window to see the strong healing work supported by this Manual provision for practical help and proper care. But I had never experienced what it was like to be cared for with such calm competence and no sense whatsoever that I was somehow damaged or injured. We weren’t covering anything, the Christian Science nurse said. “but rather uncovering the unfolding of good.” I learned to see that there was no contradiction in expecting a quick recovery from that which never was. What was getting better wasn’t a torn knee but my ability to recognize the recuperative energies of Truth at work and to “let Truth uncover and destroy error in God’s own way….” (Science and Health, 542: 19-21).
I also learned how to defend the value of Christian Science care, starting in my own thought. One night, out of nowhere, I felt bombarded with thoughts not my own – Wouldn’t it have been wiser to have had stitches, antibiotics, shots, or medicine to prevent infection? With all the concern about pandemics, shouldn’t I be using antiseptic cleansers on this wound? These thoughts were so unexpected and aggressive that I stopped what I was doing, picked up a pad of paper and wrote down the left side of the page every claim of medicine or hygiene rattling around in my thought. Then, on the right-hand side of the page, I wrote down the advantages of spiritual treatment, leading with the fact that it does not accept the view that the future of all mankind is deterioration. The list on the right side of the page got longer:
- Our pharmacy is moral.
- Our medicine is intellectual and spiritual.
- The evidence that God and man coexist is fully supported by spiritual sense.
- Truth, ever present, is understood.
- The ideas of Soul are real and tangible, they reveal the true sense of things.
- In an emergency room, joy can be a trembler and hope a cheat, but not in the heart of a Christian Science treatment.
- Christian Science treatment calms and instructs thought.
- Christian Science is true. Man has forever been God’s reflection. God is infinite and ever present.
- Spiritual healing is inevitable because based on an infinite God and perfect Truth.
Two weeks later, we were back on a more difficult and longer mountain trail, with perfect assurance and no fear of falling. This healing was accomplished quickly and without pain. It also left me with a deeper gratitude for Mary Baker Eddy’s provision of an office in her church both for Christian Science practitioners and for Christian Science nurses – along with guidance in her writings on how every church member can bring these qualities of thought and action into their own practice.
Gail R. Chaddock - Brookline, NH