Thoughts from our friend and fellow seeker, Violet Snow, of Truth.
If, like me, you didn’t grow up in Christian Science but came to it on your own, you might feel confused by some of what you read. In the past year and a half, as I try to grasp these new and wonderful but challenging ideas, The Sentinel articles have been enormously helpful to me. But sometimes I have wished for more of a beginner’s guide on how to navigate the learning process.
Now that I am starting to have a more established practice, I thought other beginners might benefit from my reflections on my baby steps.
One day when I was feeling especially frustrated in my efforts to understand what Science and Health was trying to tell me, I managed to sit still for five minutes and got a message from God.
“You are making progress here in kindergarten,” God said. “I know you think you’re supposed to get all A’s, but this is just kindergarten. If you already knew this stuff, you’d either be bored or you wouldn’t be here. You’re supposed to be in kindergarten, struggling, that’s how it works.”
Some people, especially if they’re in a life-and-death situation, have instantaneous revelations, but for me, learning has been a slow, gradual process. Here’s how it might go:
At first you remember maybe once a day, or once a week, to pause and look at a situation through the lens of God as All-in-All. It’s God as everything, God as perfect, and us as expressions of that perfection, despite the evidence of our materially conditioned senses. It’s a radical idea, that God is everything, including us, and it’s not so easy to remember to think that way.
Okay, so you start small, and once in a while, you get a whisper of joy when you think about the possibility of perceiving yourself as part of a divine whole with infinite potential. You get a little taste of how love can encompass you and everything you do, even if most of the time you’re not aware of it. Those little moments come and go, and after a while, you find yourself really attracted to the kind of thinking that evokes them.
You start to read more, you try to empty your mind once in a while and listen for the voice that comes in with surprisingly wise comments that bring up little spurts of love. You remember to do that more and more.
Then something upsets you and wipes it all away. You can’t get there, can’t get that little burst to happen in your soul. You try and try, and it doesn’t work. You read Mrs. Eddy’s words, “Emerge gently from matter into Spirit,” so you try to calm down, but you’re feeling thwarted.
You renounce spiritual practice. But the ideas are still rattling around in your head. Maybe you get sick, and you have lots of time to try it out again, since you can’t do much else. You keep trying and succeeding and failing, and you get down to a deeper level, where the understanding is there at your fingertips more of the time.
You remember more often, maybe five times a day, maybe even once an hour on some days, that the feeling you cherish is near at hand. You apply the ideas more often, trying to grasp their meaning in different situations. You read more, you have a little talk with God most mornings, you spend a little more time in that expanded state because you’re getting more adept at getting there. Your joy leaks out to other people, and you start feeling that the work is not only for you but can help others, just by osmosis.
As Jesus said, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
Then just when you’re starting to feel like you’ve made progress, you get thrown into some violent upset, and it’s all gone again, and you start over–but it’s closer than it used to be. The upset doesn’t remain quite as long as it used to. You get the feeling you’re on a very long path, and you want to keep going.
Mrs. Eddy writes, “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love.”
Maybe you never get out of kindergarten, but that’s okay. There are no grades, and you’re right where you need to be.