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?
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
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.”
I was thinking tonight about the light of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. In Genesis it tells us that God created the light… which happens before God created man. In fact, it’s pretty much the first thing He does.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.[
Genesis 1:3-4 (NKJV)
I believe that light to be the Christ idea, the Christ Truth… the light of Christ that shows us the way through the darkness.
It seems so perfect that we celebrate the light of Christ during the darkest days of the year. For those that have to go to work in an office, during this time of the shortest days and longest darkness it seems like it’s dark when you get up to go to work, and dark again by the time you wrap up your day and head home. Where is the light?!
Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the man who demonstrated and manifested the healing power of the Christ light more than any other. And he told us to let our light shine. In fact he said,
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5: 14-16 (NKJV)
Each of us have, what some call the “spark of the Divine” or that Christ light within us, and when we let it shine it lights up everyone around us… I love the double meaning of light – in the sense of brightening their day, and easing their burdens and lifting a weight off.
But how do we do this? Well the Christ light, shines a light on the good… so that we can see the good all around us. It’s easy to get sucked into negative or dark thinking. And when we do, it seems like that is all we can see – negativity, pessimism, fear, doubt, discouragement, despair. But that’s not the whole picture, is it? We have a choice in what we see. But when the Christ light shines, it shows us the good that is already and always present. We can choose to see the good. Mary Baker Eddy explains that good thoughts are an “impervious armor” which naturally resist evil or negative thinking, and in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures she writes
Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 261:4
The Christ light illuminates the good that is already and always present. Jesus was able to see so clearly the good and true sense of people, and hold that image in thought, and this is how he was able to heal.
Mary Baker Eddy puts it this way
Jesus beheld … the perfect man… In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures p. 476:32-5
And the Apostle Paul told the Corinthians,
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6 (NKJV)
So we can let the light in our hearts shine this Christmas season, and see ourselves and each other in our true light, as pure and holy, created by God, Good… and this can help us magnify the good and bring healing to others.
Do you ever get stuck mulling over an idea imagining how it could play out in all the different ways… or replaying a conversation and thinking of all the ways you could have responded better? When making a decision do you think about each option to the nth degree of all the pros and cons, shoulds and shouldn’ts…. ?
Sometimes when I find myself doing this, it almost feels like I’m not in control of my own
thought… I just keep turning it over and over… thinking and thinking… or ruminating on it. Rumination is a term used for cows and other ruminant animals such as sheep, goats, water buffalo, dear, elk, giraffes and camels. These animals all have a different way to digest food than we do as humans… they have four stomachs and can store food so they can come back to it later to chew on it again… it’s called chewing the cud.
This is what we do with thoughts or ideas when we ruminate on them… They come back to us over and over to keep thinking about or wrestle with…
So, how do we stop this cycle? I have found a couple of ideas helpful in these situations. One idea is what I believe is one of Mary Baker Eddy’s greatest contributions to understanding the concept of God better. She gives several synonyms for God that are Bible based – one is Mind. Divine Mind. Now, it doesn’t state God is Mind in the Bible, like it says “God is Love”(John 4:8) or “God is Spirit” (John 4:24)… but God is referred to as embodying many several attributes of Mind such as all-knowing, wise and possessing infinite understanding, and having good counsel and righteous judgment (or discernment).
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding? (Isaiah 40:13-14)
He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. (Psalm 147:4-5)
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the lord, or who became his counselor? (Romans 11:33-34)
For who has known the mind of the lord, that he will instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Given that God is Mind, possessing wisdom and knowledge and infinite understanding means that we, as His/Her reflection, created in His/Her image and likeness (Gen 1:27) – we can know all that we need to about any situation if we listen for that Divine guidance of the all-knowing, and know that understanding is an inherent quality/ability within us as reflections of Mind.
How do we listen when our mind is spinning in circles of rumination? Just as Jesus was able to still the storm when out on the boat with the disciples (see Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41), we can still the storms of thought by knowing God as Mind and knowing that we reflect and express the qualities of Mind. Can you imagine God as ruminating or having a storm of thoughts, or does God have peace of mind? As Mind’s reflection, we can and do express that same peace. I find it helpful to turn to Bible passages such as Psalms 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”. I love breaking down that quote – Be still and know that I am God… Be still and know… Be still… Be.
So, next time you’re caught up chewing the cud, or mulling over some thought again and again…. Remember – leave the ruminating to the cows… and be still.
Yesterday as I was sitting by the lake with my dog on this chilly, but sunny fall day with the wind blowing through the few trees surrounding us and casting ripples upon the water, I was reminded of a favorite poem or hymn from the Unitarian faith tradition, “Spirit of Life” by Carolyn McDade.
Spirit of Life, come unto me.
Sing in my heart all the stirrings of compassion.
Blow in the wind, rise in the sea;
Move in the hand, giving life the shape of justice.
Roots hold me close; wings set me free;
Spirit of Life, come to me, come to me.
I got to thinking especially about the line “Roots hold me close; wings set me free…” and it led me to think about two of the synonyms that Mary Baker Eddy, discover and founder of Christian Science, uses to describe God in her seminal work Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures – Soul and Spirit.
God. The great I am; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise, all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.
I’ve found over the years of studying this text and Eddy’s definition of God, that Soul and Spirit were at first the most difficult for me to grasp. But since getting a clearer sense of those words, their meaning and how they apply to my life and being – as the image and likeness of God as described in Genesis in the Bible – I have found them to be two of my favorite synonyms to pray with, as I continue to learn more about God and my relationship with God in my daily life.
I love to think about Soul as the roots that “hold me close”… some of the attributes of Soul that we express as the reflection of Soul are strengths,depth, resilience, power, dominion, abundance, richness, uniqueness… I see Soul as the source of my strength, what keeps me and my life grounded and “rooted”… It also feeds more with abundant goodness and richness, color and flavor and culture… much like a root system feeds a tree and holds it to the earth… providing stability and resources. When I think of a soulful person, I think of someone who is rooted and has real depth and the strength and resilience to get through things, even when it doesn’t seem humanly possible. I think of someone with the unique individuality and a richness and vibrancy, like a painting with bold colors, which makes you pause and ponder… or a piece of music that you can feel at the deepest reaches of your being and has the power to move or inspire you.
I love to think about Spirit as the wings that “set me free”… I think of someone who is spirited, or we may say “she has spirit”… that quality of enthusiasm, joy, life, light… a serene sense of peace… a pure sense of joy… radiance… Spirit is what lifts me up and causes me to soar above the seeming drama and darkness of the day… it is what bring a sense of freshness and newness to life. It is what allows us to delight in the beauty around us… in the simple joys and pleasures of a playful puppy, a cheerful child, or a budding bloom…it’s that Spirit of Life, as the song states…
So as you go about your day today… perhaps you can find ways to connect to a deeper and higher sense of the Divine as Soul… and as Spirit.
 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 587
About the photos:
Baobab trees have resilient root systems (photo taken in South Luangwa, Zambia)
The Albatross has a wingspan of up to 3.5 meters or 11.5 feet!! (photo taken off the coast of Dunedin, New Zealand)