Looking out the window at the bright red cardinal in the bare, leafless tree, was like a pop of bright happy color in a scene of wintery, grey… like a little spark of joy (to use the famous Marie Kondo term) in the midst of dreariness. Pioneering spiritual thinker and writer, Mary Baker Eddy describes God with several synonyms. Pondering the synonym of Soul this morning, I was thinking about the many attributes or qualities of Soul – creativity, individuality, joy, radiance, beauty, color, grace, uniqueness… And as an expression of God, made in Her image and likeness (as it states in the first book of the Bible), we reflect Soul, so we reflect and express all the qualities of Soul.
So it got me thinking, how am I bringing color to a dreary palate? How can I spark joy and hope in a world that seems at times overrun with negativity and pessimism? How can I be a haven of peace and a fount of love in a world that at times feels engulfed in fear? What is my unique, individual expression of Soul that radiates with beauty and light?
Well, that cardinal doesn’t DO anything to be a pop of color, or a spark of joy… it’s just who he IS… So I just have to BE who I truly am… the beloved reflection of God, Soul…and I will naturally express the inherent qualities of Soul….
See, we don’t have to go out and attain or obtain more joy, more beauty, more uniqueness, etc… we just have to be willing to pause, be still and listen deeply to our heart, to those intuitions or angel messages from God that are telling us the truth about ourselves, telling us each and every moment who we really are as God’s reflection… and see that it is already there within each of us…
And when we realize that, we can’t help but radiate all the joy and beauty and color and grace that is built right in. It’s how God made us.
So how are you going to radiate beauty and grace? How will you be a pop of color that brightens someone’s day? How can you spark joy today?
Fear is a funny thing. It can seem to completely overtake us and our sense of being. I love the idea of it as an acronym – False Evidence Appearing Real. How true that is… that it is entirely false. In an article By Pam LeBlanc, Alex Honnold – world renowned climber – puts it this way:
Fear to me is my body giving me a warning. It’s sort of like a point of data, like hunger or something. My body is telling me I need to eat at some point. Fear is sort of your body reminding you that you’re uncomfortable. Then it’s up to you to decide if your body is in real danger or your body is being irrational. You’re the guide.
To me I think fear is mental but I love the point that you are the guide and get to decide if the danger is real or if it is irrational or false evidence…. So, you get to decide if you will let fear over power you. But sometimes it doesn’t seem that simple.
This summer I had the opportunity to overcome my fear of heights when I was serving as a Christian Science Practitioner for a high school group at a summer camp for Christian Scientists. I had the opportunity to ride roller coasters and go zip-lining. I didn’t know if I wanted to do either, because for some reason in recent years I seem to really fear heights.
It doesn’t even make sense because as a child I was always climbing trees, walls… being the first out on a high-ropes course and intentionally falling or jumping off… I used to rock climb, and had a pretty big fall when doing a lead climb in Thailand and never seemed to fully recover from it. I tried to finish the climb but had to come down and have one of my group members finish it. Then I went back to the practice wall but never felt as confident, especially on the tricky overhang. When I moved back to the US from Thailand, I had wanted to get into climbing again but never did. Since then this fear has festered, but mostly was dormant because I was not often in a position where it would come up.
So here I was at camp, where the campers in my group were overcoming fears and challenging themselves every day. I was there supporting them with spiritual ideas, but felt somewhat hypocritical, if I wasn’t prepared to do the same. So, I went on a roller coaster…twice. And yes, I screamed my head off the first time… and then laughed my head off the second time (and still screamed a little bit). But it was fun! I felt silly and child-like and free.
Then it came time for zip lining… one of the campers ask if I was going to go. I wasn’t… but then that voice came from inside saying, are you really going to let your fear get the best of you here? So I decided to try it. I paired up with one of the boys and we were going to go on the tandem zip lines together. (Just two lines, side by each and you can go at the same time… and even race if you want to)… So the countdown happened… 1…. 2…. 3…. And the camper jumped of the platform and started off…. I on the other hand was still on the platform. I couldn’t seem to make myself do it. Another count down and some encouragement from the counselors… still nothing. I felt some hands on my back gently nudging me a bit (and I could tell that the person the hands were attached to – a good friend of mine – was debating if they were allowed to just push me or not… I know they wanted to)… I decided that this fear was ridiculous… I didn’t want to give in and look ridiculous … and it was clearly fun because everyone talked about how great it was… so here we go again…. 3… 2…. 1…. Jump! Wahoooo!!! It was so much fun, that on the next one, I decided I would actually race the camper who had kindly wait for me at the platform in between… It was so much fun!!
So back to that False Evidence Appearing Real… and that idea that “it’s up to you to decide if your body is in real danger or your body is being irrational…” I bring up Alex Honnold because I just watched the trailer for the film about his free solo of El Capitan that is just coming out. (Spoiler alert: he succeeds!!) While watching this trailer… my body (and mind/thought) reacted… I because so filled with fear that my stomach ended up in knots, the palms of my hands (and even my feet) started to seriously sweat. I was utterly consumed by the fear for a few moments…. (maybe that’s what the movie folks were going for… but thank goodness the trailer is only 2 minutes long)…
Did I have an actual reason to fear? I looked up from the film trailer and I was of course sitting in my chair with my legs up on the ottoman, and my iPad on my lap watching a video. I was not on the face of a giant cliff… I was in my study… sitting down… watching a video. Also, I paused and looked up Alex Honnold (who I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know much about before this) to find out that yes, he is in fact still alive…so, there was literally nothing to fear, even for the guy on the screen. But it didn’t matter… in fact, still sitting here in my chair in my study typing up this blog post and thinking back to watching the trailer I’m starting to sweat and get nervous all over again!!
Fear is a ridiculous thing… so how do we conquer it? How was I able to let go of it on the zip line (which now sounds sooo wimpy compared to a giant cliff face with no ropes or safety harness like I was wearing)…
Well, in the Bible it says,
“Perfect love casts out fear.”
How does that work…? “Perfect love” to me is Divine Love… unconditional, ever-present, all-absorbing, all-encompassing, spiritual love. It is the kind of love of our Father-Mother God that says, I am right here, holding you up, embracing you… and will never let anything happen to you… I will protect you… I will uphold you and carry you and save you.
I can see some people saying at this point – yeah but bad things happen, how do you explain that? Well, our life with this Love is eternal… and while sometimes we may find scary or bad things seem to be happening… if even in that moment, we pause and commune, or allow ourselves to be at one with that Divine Love… we can feel a sense of peace… Mary Baker Eddy speaks of it this way in her seminal text Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures… that we can
“feel the unspeakable peace which comes from an all-absorbing spiritual love.”
[Divine love] is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for [love] is with me; [love’s] rod and [love’s] staff they comfort me.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house [the consciousness] of [love] for ever.
So when we live or dwell in that consciousness of love, there is nothing to fear – real or imagined. Love is guiding us through each challenge, if we listen and allow ourselves to feel Love’s ever-presences. Love will guide us to break through ever fear.
“Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way,” 
“If you had no fear of heights, would you climb a 3,000-foot wall?” By Pam LeBlanc. American-Statesman, March 25, 2018. https://www.mystatesman.com/lifestyles/recreation/you-had-fear-heights-would-you-climb-000-foot-wall/gSKgi7BXfJYgDWVnnwNdeL/amp.html
 1 John 4:18
 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy p. 264
 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy p. 578
 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy p. 454
Do you wonder what the future holds for you? Do you every wish you had a crystal ball and could see how it all turns out? I certainly do sometimes… I think we all do at one time or another…certainly when we’re going through a challenge whether it is trying to figure out what’s next in life – jobs, relationships, location, home… or dealing with some form of sickness that seems scary and just wanting to know we will be OK…
I’ve heard people say, “I just want “this” (sickness, challenging situation, sense of lack or loss) to go away. I want healing to come… and I just want to know when and how it will all work out.”
I too have experienced this at times…. This morning I was thinking about the statement from the Bible from the book of Isaiah
… to know the end from the beginning…
and that God knows the future, not only because God is the all-knowing, infinite Mind, but because God knows the present, and is always in the eternal now. This ties in with what is stated in Jeremiah –
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
What does it mean to know the end from the beginning? Well, we know that the Bible tells us in Genesis (which means beginning), that it states “In the beginning God…”in fact, this is the opening line of the whole book, the entire story. And God create man, and everything else, and states that is all “very good.” In fact, God doesn’t declare that it is all VERY good, until the last verse of Chapter 1… not until everything was create and all working together harmoniously.
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…”
So, I think that because God created man and the universe and it was/is all very good… and because God is All and Eternal and unchanging, doesn’t it stand to reason that the end will also be very good, as will all the middle bits…? But how? Well, God is good, and only knows good… and it is just a matter of us waking up and tuning into what God is telling us each moment, that we can experience this goodness for ourselves. In Malachi it states And in Malachi –
…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
So the good and the blessings are abundant and constant and consistent and never-ending. As Mary Baker Eddy states in her text Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,
“God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love.”
I’m often tempted to think, but what if…? And when I remember, I try to replace that “what if” with “what is”… What is true about God, good, and me and my life as the image and likeness, or reflection of God, good. What is true of God, who is Love, as we learn in the New Testament… and me, who is loved, cherished, adored and cared for unconditionally, as Her beloved child?
I started thinking about all of this because I was reflecting back on a time when I started watching a TV show… it was a real suspense, thriller, action type of show… it’s one of those shows where it’s almost arbitrary where one episode ends and the next starts because it’s constant action and they just pick up exactly where they leave off and always with a cliff hanger about what’s about to happen next. And because it’s on Netflix, one episode came after another and suddenly a good bit of time had gone by and I got completely sucked in for a little while…
I find I’m one of those people that gets really into a book or movie or show, so I’m usually more careful and choosy about what I read or watch, because it tends to stick with me a bit. Lately I haven’t really watched this kind of show because I don’t like those images or feelings to linger in my thought afterwards… (I used to love the crime dramas, but I’m more of a Great British Baking Show or World of Dance kinda person now… though every now and then one of those suspense shows will peak my interest and I’ll give it a try for a bit…
Well, in this case, I found that after watching the show for a little while one night, I ended up dreaming about it and awakening before my alarm the next morning. I couldn’t shake the desire to see what happens next or find out how it all turns out… I was actually afraid for the main character and her friends…
But what I wanted even more at that moment was I actually really wanted to just stop thinking about it all together and focus on my day… and focus my thought on God and prayer… but I couldn’t seem to break the mesmerism. And that’s exactly what it was… mesmerism.
I realized this was the same kind of mesmerism that had a hold of my thought about a physical challenge that I had been working through. It seemed like a scary one… and I found myself wanting to know how it was all going to turn out for my life and my health… much like the show. I was afraid… and sometimes would think about others I had known who had similar symptoms… or what I had read about, seen advertised or even seen in shows I had watched in the past, where it never seemed to turn out very well in the end for the people who had these symptoms.
Well, to deal with breaking the mesmerism of this silly TV show… I decided to skip to the end. I read the brief synopsis of the final episode of the season and it said they would reveal who was behind all the evil stuff going on. So, I watched the first five minutes. That’s all it took. I found out who was behind it, realized that of course the good guys would win… and that was the end of it. The mesmerism was completely broken… shattered, even. My interest in the show what gone, and I was free. I was able to focus on my prayers and my daily work. But it got me thinking in a new way…
What if I knew the end of this physical “suspense drama”? Would I no longer be afraid? Would I see it for the unreality that it was? How could I find out how it ends? How could I really know…? And that’s when the verse from Isaiah came to thought. But I DO know, I reasoned. Because God is All, unchanging Good… that IS true right now and always… and because God created me, in Her image and likeness, I can only be good, and filled with goodness, right now and always. And God wants only good for me, provides only good for me, sustains me with that goodness… as a friend once said, “every part of us was created to glorify God”… so there could never be any part of me that is not good, holy, pure, true… not now, not ever. And with that the mesmerism and fear broke… and I was then better able to pray and hear more clearly the messages God was sending… messages of love… messages that said,
“I love you, I have always loved you, I will always love you, you are my beloved and all will be well, for all IS well.”
The Bible – Isaiah 46:10
The Bible – Jeremiah 29:11
The Bible – Genesis 1:1
The Bible – Genesis 1:31
The Bible – Malachi 3:10
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy p. 2
In case you didn’t know, today is National Peanut Butter Day in the U.S., and to celebrate I ate peanut butter sandwich. Why should anyone care about this obscure holiday, you ask… Well for me it is significant because it is a reminder to pray to know that the world’s children have all they need at every moment. To know that divine Love is meeting their every need, and caring for them. That as the reflection and image and likeness of their divine Parent, they come with infinite supply of good.
Each year on this day I pause to remember this and to pray in this way specifically for the children in Zambia, Malawi and elsewhere, struggling with malnutrition and a seeming lack of supply, and for the organizations such as Every Child Fed (ECF), whereI worked as the Country Director for Zambia, and their partner organization Project Peanut Butter (PPB). These organizations help supply an enriched peanut butter paste to children who are suffering from severe malnutrition.
When I was embarking on this journey to work to support children in this way, it was not helpful to see the children as lacking anything – food, health, care – but instead to know that each idea of Life, Love, God is whole and complete, coming with its own supply – like an acorn that already includes the leaves, bark, branches and roots of a tree all within itself. I find it helpful to know that Love is our true source of supply, and that it is constant, consistent, limitless, infinite and eternal… this is true for everyone… the children in Zambia, as well as US government workers during the shutdown, and anyone else feeling a sense of lack or insecurity. As Mary Baker Eddy states in her inspired text
Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.
She goes on to say, “It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good.”Jesus demonstrated the ever-presence of supply by multiplying the loaves and fishes to feed the multitudes… and there were baskets left over! (see Matthew 14:13-21)
But how do we feel and know that our supply will be there when everything points to the contrary… I have found in my experience, that a change in thought can help. Rather than seeing lack everywhere, we can shift our perspective with gratitude for what we DO have… Just as in the example of the loaves and fishes, Jesus gave gratitude first… “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied…”
How can we feel that sense of being satisfied with what we already have and grateful for it? Mrs. Eddy puts it this way,
I have found that supply for the next thing doesn’t seem to show up until I get grateful for what I already have. When I pause and assess what I do have, and give gratitude for all the good that is present in my life, it has a magnifier and multiplier effect… and more good comes in.. like attracts like… so seeing the good already present, attracts more good to come in. (You can check out a previous blog I wrote on supply and the power of gratitude for more on this idea… )
So today, let’s celebrate all the good… and understand our true source of supply, for ourselves and everyone, especially children… and to that, I will raise a jar of peanut butter!
*Note: all of the photos I took while working in Malawi and Zambia with ECF and PPB
I was recently reflecting on a favorite Bible passage and how to apply it directly to my thoughts and actions… perhaps it will be helpful to you as well as we begin this new year with a fresh start and fresh thinking.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.Jeremiah 29:11
Other Translations say I know the plans I have for you… And they say for welfare, well-being, prosperity, goodness not of evil, harm, calamity, disaster… And they go on to say “to give you a future and a hope.”
I started to think about this wonderful passage from the Bible and how much peace it brings to my thought. I also started to think about how Mary Baker Eddy, in one of my favorite books, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, shared with us the idea that God is infinite, divine Mind… And given that we are created in God’s image and likeness, we reflect that one Mind.
So we can thereby reason that we can only have thoughts of peace and hope and prosperity and goodness. I started to think about what if we said this to ourselves and others…
“I know the thoughts I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil… To bring you a sense of hope.”
What if those were the only kind of thoughts we thought about ourselves… Peaceful thoughts filled with goodness that lead to hope rather than the negative loop of self-condemnation or fear and doubt… The constant comparing with others either puffing ourselves up or cutting ourselves down when we compare where we are in life to where others are… The constant criticism or condemning of ourselves and/or others …the endless loop of complaints or pessimistic or negative thinking.
It seems between like between the media and social media there are many temptations to continuously fill our thoughts with negative or fear-based thoughts either towards ourselves or others. Thoughts like “we/they are not good enough, not worthy, don’t belong…”
What if we consider our thinking about others friends, peers, siblings, parents, children, coworkers, maybe even or seeming enemies or those on the other side of politics from us… What if instead of thoughts of negativity, harm, disaster, calamity or any form of evil thinking… We thought only thoughts of peace, goodness and hope towards them. Wouldn’t that fill our thought with those ideas thereby uplifting us and our own thinking. Wouldn’t that fill us and thereby our day and future with hope and goodness and a sense of peace?