Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

I just finished a 4-mile walk outside. Colorful leaves fell from oak and maple trees. Clouds moved away and there was the sunshine.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not stop the sunshine, I could not stop the leaves from falling from the trees. It reminds me not to try to stop old thinking from falling away. I can more than hope, even trust that soon new leaves and fresh new thinking will emerge.

Quoting from science & religion to God: A briefer version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health

Genesis 1: 14: And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,

This indicates the diffusion and circulation of divine thought as it ascends. The God-centered nature continues to appear. To discern the rhythm of Spirit and to be holy, thought must be purely spiritual.

Briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy's "Science & Health" available on Amazon.com

Briefer narrative of Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science & Health” available on Amazon.com

Shepherding Grandmothers

My maternal grandma was ever in a polyester dress, beige semi-transparent nylon leggings, and sensible-heeled shoes. Grandma was intelligent, kind, patient, and worried. She wanted everyone to feel loved and be loved.

When growing up, we only saw her and Grandpa once or twice a year. They lived three thousand miles away in New York State.

One summer before I entered the sixth grade, Denise and I spent six weeks with Grandma and Grandpa in New York. Denise and I played together and visited relatives nearby. Mom’s brother, Uncle Jim and his wife, Aunt Dorothy had five boys. On their family dairy, they milked cows twice a day, 365 days a year.

Grandma loved those boys. She loved everything about them. I knew that same love applied to us grandkids in Washington.

After they graduated high school, two of the boys were selected to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. It happened to be when I was attending college in Fort Collins. A couple of times during college, Grandma would visit us in Colorado. She’d fly into the Denver airport and make her way to the Air Force Academy.

I drove from Fort Collins to meet her and my cousins. She treated us to dinner at a restaurant. One weekend, Grandma said to me, “Cheryl honey, let’s go to a church service together at the Cadet Chapel with the boys. The service will be different than the #212 services we go to.”

Grandma explained to me that the boys were raised in the #4,611 church, “And their church is good, too,” she added.

Grandma sparked in me an awareness of genuine compassion and bravery. Grandma was born Ella Christensen, on June 6, 1905, in Denmark. At the age of seven years, she and her brothers took a boat to Ellis Island. She became a United States citizen and married Tom Sheppard in 1927. She outlived two World Wars, the Depression, and four of her five children. She learned to travel in airplanes, use modernized appliances, and she spent hours praying. Her God was her staple and she was an angel to me.

I never knew my paternal grandparents, who died young. But, when I met my future husband, I met Edna Shepard, my husband’s maternal grandma.

Edna was from the high plains of Central Oregon; her petite five-foot stature was eclipsed by her mighty wisdom and practicality. A widow for thirty years, this woman had a confidence I could not resist. Whether she knew it or not, she taught me not to delude myself into acting as if anything in this physical world is final or complete.

One night before bedtime, she and I talked alone. “Cheryl, you are in the prime of your life right now. It goes by fast, faster than I can tell you. There are things in this world that you will think are important; they aren’t. I’ve boiled life down to one thing: hate no one. I hate no one now and know peace.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself here, so will end this chapter by quoting a Psalm as a tribute to my grandmas whose last names were Sheppard and Shepard.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”—Psalm 23

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Jesus was quoted as saying, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8, ESV)

Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary tells us that the word “heart” to Bible writers carried a much larger definition than it does today to modern readers. Back then, the heart identified with all emotions, character, and thinking.

Not that these differing definitions change anything real, they don’t, however they offer different perspectives.

When reading the beatitude that combines blessings and happiness to a pure heart, it becomes apparent that pure emotions, pure character, and pure thinking can also be valued and expressed.

From 21st Century Science and Health:

The goal, a point beyond faith, is to find the footsteps of Truth, the way to health and spirituality. Sincere effort is required to reach the Horeb height where God is revealed. The cornerstone of all spiritual building is purity. Spirit’s baptism washes the body of all fleshly impurities and shows that the pure in heart see God. We approach spiritual Life and its demonstration through purity.

The effects of spiritual Science are not so much seen as felt. It is the “gentle whisper”[1] of Truth expressing itself. We are either neglecting this expression or we are attentive to it and being improved by it. Willingness to become as little children[2] and to leave the old for the new, prepares thought to receive the advanced idea. To cheerfully leave behind the false imprints and contentedly let them disappear, is the attitude that helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony. The purification of feelings and intent is a proof of progress. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”[3]

Misinterpretations of Science and Health would condemn to oblivion the truth which is strengthening the weak and elevating human consciousness from a theoretical to a practical Christianity. Restrictions and criticisms are generally based on misquotes or phrases out of context. Even the Scriptures, which grow in beauty and consistency from one grand root, appear contradictory when torn apart and exposed to such usage. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God [Truth].”[4]

Quoting from science & religion to God:

When inspired by God, Truth, and Love, we inspire others. We can serve God, rather than money. We can have pure inclinations, rather than indulge the flesh and egotism. We can drink in the spiritual evidence of health, holiness, and life, rather than absorb the material evidence of sickness, sin, and death.

Divine interpretation gives us the deeper meaning our hearts yearn for. Spiritual interpretation maintains our life purpose and makes our experiences, words, expressions—even myths—useful. It points the way to non-intrusive healing.

Although it can be useful to have other people pray for or with us, we are able to communicate directly with God without a middleperson. Turn off the television, the cellphone, the computer. Don’t listen incessantly to the muscles, nerves, and brain. Enter into the heart of a healing prayer. Deny all that is unlike God and affirm wisdom, Truth, and Love. We can trust the unseen God, the Father-Mother of us all to guide us to responsible healing.

 

 

[1] I Kings 19:12

[2] Matt. 18:3–4

[3] Matt. 5:8

[4] Matt. 5:8 (Brackets added by Mary Baker Eddy)

The Bible, Quran, and other sacred texts are among the top most sold books in the world. Billions of copies are in existence, because for centuries, scripture has been and continues to be interpreted, revised, translated, and printed by many publishers.

The Bible is my choice of scripture probably because it is the book of books I grew up with and am familiar with.

I also was introduced to Christian Science as taught by Mary Baker Eddy in the 19th century, from which I gleaned the teaching, or tenant, that the Bible is a “sufficient guide to eternal life.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy)

In thinking about this, it’s realized that the word “sufficient” doesn’t mean “the only” guide to eternal life. Basically, The Bible isn’t the only guide to eternal life.

Therefore, if the Bible starts feeling authoritarian or controlling or too demanding, those feelings can be released with the reminder of its sufficiency, not absolutism.

Moreover, the tenant Eddy expressed clarified that it is the “inspired Word of the Bible” that is taken as a sufficient guide. This steers the mind away from taking the literal words in the Bible as a guide, and steers the mind to see and contemplate the spiritual interpretation of scriptures.

The inspired, or true, declarations can be detected, just as they can in any circumstance life brings.

When skepticism or negativism creep into thought, it may be because we are giving too much power to the wrong thing.

In 2017, research and resource company, Barna Group, videoed an interview of Jason Malec, managing director of Mission U.S. at American Bible Society. Malec mentioned studies that found in the last six years, going on seven, the percentage of people skeptical about the Bible and holding neutral or negative perceptions of the Bible, increased from 10% to 21%.

A physical book with literal words doesn’t have any more power than we give them. We can give books and words the power to elate us, or depress us, but instead go to the inspiration or intent behind the words and reconcile with the power of life, truth, and love, God.

And if we want people to hold a positive perception of The Bible, we can stop telling them it is the absolute truth and let it’s inspired Word speak for itself.

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