Category Archives: Healing

Spirituality in the nonsecular and secular world

Reversing prayer

Do we sometimes get things backwards?

Do we confuse the beginning with the end and thereby get nowhere?

I’ve been told to pray for healing.

Prayer first, healing next.

But what if God is already healing? What if healing is happening right now?

What if the healing is first and prayer next?

These questions give me the idea that my prayer could be different than praying for healing. I can pray to wake up to the healing that caused me to pray and be thankful for God’s healing.

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers, Luke 17, English Standard Version

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”


A new view of my neighbor

This post was written by a colleague freelance writer and student of Christian Science,  Violet Snow

I was interviewing a gentleman, but the interview was not going well. I was supposed to write an article about this man, and we seemed to be jousting. He kept mentioning the names of people in town and asking me, “Do you know so-and-so?” Mostly I didn’t. Finally he said, “How long have you lived here?” I was offended—as if he was saying I wasn’t cool because I didn’t know his friends.

We muddled around for an hour and a half, without anything surfacing that I felt I could hang an article on. Every time he said something mildly interesting, he’d add, “But don’t put that in.” I couldn’t think of anything else to ask him. I left in a terrible mood, annoyed with him and feeling inadequate that I hadn’t been able to turn the interview around.

At home, I kept going over things he had said, and I noticed I was getting attached to seeing him as a jerk. Not only was this impression probably incorrect, since he did have a lot of friends, but it didn’t seem like a healthy way to look at another human being. I started trying to shift my thinking.

From the viewpoint of Christian Science, I reasoned, discord is an illusion. God is all good, and God is the only reality. God would not create a discordant situation; therefore, this discord must be obscuring the truth. In Christian or divine Science, the underlying truth of the situation had to be harmonious.

Then I recalled that the man had said he was anxious because every article written about him in the past had been inaccurate and disappointing. That worry didn’t justify his behavior, I thought, but then I also remembered slightly aggressive comments I’d made, no doubt because I was taking his manner personally. So we had that tendency in common, the urge to belittle each other when feeling vulnerable.

That evening, he emailed me, complaining that one of my questions had showed a startling lack of understanding of his relationship with one of his friends and requesting that I show him the article before sending it to my editor. My hackles went up, but I decided we had another chance to discover the harmony that had to be the truth.

I replied to his email thoughtfully, deleting my initial sarcastic comments, apologizing for my lack of focus during the interview, and sympathizing with his nervousness about the article. After a few messages, he also admitted he had not been at his best that afternoon, and he proceeded to relate a long, heartfelt story that provided exactly what I needed to make the article compelling.

The next day, I wrote the piece, and we sent it back and forth, arguing in a friendly way about word choice and syntax. The collaboration was fun, and I felt an exhilarating intimacy with this man I had formerly disliked.

What a glorious lesson!

What can Easter bring?

With Easter approaching, Cheryl and Richard discuss a verse from the Gospel Luke:

“And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed his last.”

Cheryl: Jesus knew he was going to be crucified. He also had plans to resurrect, and in order to do this, he had to “breath his last.” But his prelude comment, “I commit My spirit,” shows he attached to something greater before giving up the lesser.

Richard: I don’t know if I would use the term attaching to Spirit. I think Jesus fully knew his Divine Image, he understood that he wasn’t material, but Spiritual. By detaching himself from the physical world, he was trying to teach that we are all of this Divine Spirit.

Cheryl: Hindsight shows me that when I committed to Spirit, before giving up something, things went better. Usually it began as a necessity. For instance, when our daughters were approaching college age, I had to commit my mind to God as the Parent, and understand better that God was always guiding them even though I wasn’t with them. The transitions went well.

Richard: Committed to Spirit to me is joining Spirit as one. I do this through prayer and meditation. The more I bond with Spirit, the more I see, the more I trust, the more I truly believe.

Cheryl: I remember struggling to quit eating so much chocolate. I could not give up that chocolate until I committed myself to Spirit, by learning to really feel the satisfaction that comes from Spirit. I suppose it was a lesson in gratitude for Spirit.

Richard: I struggled with smoking for years. Bonding with Spirit makes giving up some habits a bit easier. By focusing on Spirit, we focus on love. In order to give love, we must first be able to love ourselves. When we love ourselves, we do good things for ourselves, and are able to pass this gift to others.


The placebo effect

Posted by Richard Fischer:
I don’t like being sick, or laid up in bed. When I am, I have to wonder, “How did I get here?” I know some people who thrive on being sick because they get something in return.
1. Attention
2. Sympathy
3. Empathy
4. Pity

Some people feel special when they are sick. When you are special, people will do things for you. You are the center of the Universe. Me? I’ll take a healthy body and Mind any day of the week.

Years ago, I had a family member come and visit when I lived down south while serving in the military. We were all going to take a day trip to the Gulf of Mexico. As we all got into the car she said, “Uncle Richard, I ran out of Dramamine, and if I don’t have it, I will get car sick.” I said, “No problem honey, I will stop by Walmart and pick you up some.”
We were on the road for no less than a minute when she said, “Oh, how far is Walmart? I’m getting sick already.” As we got to Walmart, I told my wife that I’d get the Dramamine. I actually picked up some Long Fellow candies, and put them into a bottle and told her they were bigger, because they were the adult size. One will last you all day. We got on the road, and low and behold, I had a healthy happy young lady in the back seat enjoying her day trip to the Gulf.

She believed in her demise of car sickness. She also believed in the so-called cure Dramamine.
It amazes me of the power of faith, and the power of belief. Why do we carry these false beliefs with us for our whole lives? Is it because we need our sickness? Do we need to be special? Is pity and sympathy our friend? Or, our enemy? Our crutch? Or, our excuse?

When I get sick or am not feeling well, I affirm who and what I am. I am God’s child. I am made in the Divine image of the Creator, therefore I am whole and perfect. This is what makes me Special. Spirit, Mind, is my ally. The only sickness I have is that which human mind created, whereas Mind created health.

Push the Start button

When struggles drag on, and you feel as though you’ve scanned every thought corner to find a morsel of sin you need to get rid of,  ask yourself, are you trying so hard to stop the suffering and sin that you stop everything?

Allow the thought to permit. Give permission to do something new, useful to the world, and encouraging to your spiritual identity.

From 21st Century Science and Health, “We can follow Jesus’ divine example, and permit spirituality to replace all ill works, error and disease included.

“When Jesus came to John the Baptist for baptism, John was astounded and reluctant. Jesus read John’s confused thoughts and reassured him with the remark, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”[1] Apparently, Jesus acknowledged several human ceremonies as a means to advance spiritual good, including baptism and marriage.”

[1] Matt. 3:15 (NASB)

Prayer specialist gets too comfortable

Comfort zones can be large or small. With the arrival of “specialization,” comfort zones began shrinking noticeably. A specialist in food preparation might starve in the woods if they have no survival skills.

Specialized jobs limit opportunities. Foreign Service Specialist can work at one of over 265 posts overseas and in Washington D.C. and other parts of the United States. That’s not a lot of opportunity for 7 billion people.

Specialization is undeniably a powerful social and economic tool, but it has its drawbacks. When I started studying Christian Science and learning how to ply the tool of prayer, I began devoting more and more time to the practice. After recognizing and experiencing its powerful healing force, it occurred to me that to specialize, or focus solely on one goal, could be very debilitating. Specialization breeds helplessness, dependence, and ignorance. It can eventually undermine any sense of responsibility when we stop doing other things for ourselves.

I took back my skills. Thankfully, I had a non-male-chauvinist dad and he taught me how to operate heavy equipment, change the oil, and perform basic mechanical exercises. My mom taught me that I could learn how to cook and sew and take care of children.

Although I love praying for myself, the family, or others from the public who requested prayer, I still need to get off the prayer chair.

If a tire needed changing, I’ll change it. If a neighbor needed help putting up a wall, I’ll grab a hammer. If the bathroom needs cleaning, I’ll get the cleaner and scrub.

The human mind is a fickle agent. It thinks limitedly and remembers limitedly. Christ Jesus is referred to so often as the healer and teacher, we may forget he knew how to build a house.

Yes, dedicated prayer is useful and valuable and I won’t quite it, but it can’t take over my life, my thought, and my career. To pray all day is to shrink that comfort zone down to an incapacitating size that squeezes inspiration out.

If you feel like prayer isn’t working as fast as you’d like, re-evaluate your skills. To be able to pray a long time, and for many people, may have weakened the effect of your prayer because you stopped doing things for yourself. And, those people who you are praying for, may not be responding as quickly because they are so busy cooking for you, feeding you, and cleaning up after you.

Reframing the God debate

I have no desire to disbelieve God, partly because doing so might drive me bonkers. And I agree with those who call attention to the dangers of authoritarianism and want to encourage people to resist relying on religious authorities or ever changing science for their answers to life.

Nonetheless, I have come to believe that we should depolarize the stigmas attached to our views on God.

The debate we need is not between the existence of a God, or not, but between stigmatizing and destigmatizing.

Nick Wing posted on Huffington Post: 11 Things Atheists Couldn’t Do Because They Didn’t Believe in God.

We read:

“While the Establishment Clause of the Constitution is supposed to ensure a clear separation of church and state, the two frequently intermix, much to the disapproval of nonbelievers.

“This manifests itself in a variety of ways, from the inclusion of the word “God” in various mandatory pledges and on the face of U.S. currency, to compulsory religious-based sessions that atheists have been unconstitutionally forced to take part in.”

Granted this is a tough situation for atheists, living in a country where God is woven into the fabric of laws and pledges. Court cases never really solve the issue. But, I’ve seen hints of progress in my own Town where officials say the Pledge of Allegiance while granting respect to those who sit quietly or repeat the pledge and become silent during the “under God,” portion. There is nothing wrong with getting along.

The point is not to stigmatize one another.

Even when reading more of Nick Wing’s post, we find stigmatization in the reverse—nonbelievers pigeonholing believers. We read:

“Atheists in 13 countries face execution under the law if they openly express their beliefs or reject the official state religion — Islam in all of these cases.

“This one’s pretty straightforward. The Boy Scouts of America still prohibits atheists from joining its ranks. Scouts must pledge to “do my duty to God and my country,” and the BSA has resisted calls to remove religion from the oath.”

Muslims and Boy Scouts are being stigmatized as cruel and intolerant. Instead, let’s let public sentiment move toward change. Let’s reframe the issue.

Steer away from stigmatizing atheists as untrustworthy, but also steer away from stigmatizing believers as provincial or delusional.

Arguing over whether God is real or not is not worth the effort. It brings diminishing returns to society.

Again we read Nick Wing’s post an area that can be corrected:

“Groups of atheists have regularly been denied the opportunity to form recognized clubs at public schools around the nation.”

Our society and government is designed to allow atheists the opportunity to form recognized clubs and organizations. Let’s not deter this.

Reframing our debates, to ensure stigmatization is held at bay, ironically reveals that stigmatization is found within supposedly similar veins. Within the realm of God believers, we even stigmatize one another.

It’s not a matter of everyone being buddy/buddy however the spiritual law of respecting one another opens the door to brighter promises.

A flash reverses typical thinking

The other night it occurred to me that God is constantly manifesting health, purpose, and creativity.

A flash: That means I don’t have a physical body that is being updated or healed, but that health is continuously being manifest in me.

Yes, I had to think about this for a few minutes, but it put God first in the line of action and brought me a peace.


Negotiating the Holidays

Settling our differences through negotiation sounds splendid in theory, but the actual practice of compromise proves far more problematic. Over the decades, negotiating tactics have become more scientific, even stylized. Yet they still fail to remove conflict unless wrangled in a way that negotiators stay on track, not to win a position, but to agree upon a consequence.

Effective negotiations challenge assumptions and build on shared experiences and ideas. Negotiators resolve to produce an agreeable result.

Too often, negotiations are entered into as if one side is right and the other wrong. But, the attitudes of “I’m smarter,” or “I’m bigger,” or “I’m louder,” only move forward by sheer brute force while leaving behind a residue of fractured families and communities.

The starting point for effective negotiations is not two sides, a right and a wrong. Jeremy Rifkin wrote in his book, The Empathic Civilization, “Collaborative education begins with the premise that the combined wisdom of the group, more often than not, is greater than the expertise of any given member and that by learning together the group advances its collective knowledge, as well as the knowledge of each member of the cohort.”

Negotiation chooses to advance in knowledge, rather than repeat, or try to fortify, old knowledge. However, negotiations are easily undermined by biological, psychological, cultural, and moral stances, not to mention the ever-fluxing social, political, religious, and economic environments.

Karen Armstrong points out in her book, A History of God, that the old knowledge of a God “endorsing our prejudices instead of compelling us to transcend them,” has proven to be a liability to humankind.

Transcending old knowledge can be done by focusing on an agreeable consequence to a specific situation.

When negotiating holiday traditions, aim for the truth of peace, even if it goes against human expectations.

When negotiating spending money for Christmas, admit the knowledge that people desire forgiveness and honesty, rather than an expensive gift.

When negotiating the New Year, give less credence to assumptions and more to spiritual insight and foresight. Trust the consequence of a holy experience.

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