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Glimpses of Grace

Growth starts at the top

From the July 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

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Toward the end of March, I was enjoying springtime at my heavily wooded weekend country home in the rolling backwoods of southern Mississippi. The winter ryegrass was at its peak, brown tree limbs on the beech, white oak, blackjack oak, and sweet gum trees were all sprouting fresh green leaves. The woods were speckled with blooming dogwoods, honeysuckle, azaleas, and wisteria. The atmosphere and view were breathtaking. The cypress trees were particularly interesting, because they, too, were sprouting their fuzzy, stringy green leaves—all except one.

Last summer, I noticed through the brush a very tall cypress tree. I could only see the upper portion while standing on my raised porch. The brush and undergrowth surrounding the beautiful trunk made it difficult to see the lower 20 feet of the tree. I decided to clear away all the brush around this magnificent trunk, so that the full tree could be seen, appreciated, and receive more sunlight. I went to work with my chainsaw, brush mower, and hand clippers, until I could see the full tree. I expected that its new growth in the spring would be most evident after the scraggily brush was removed. 

The cypress trees in my swamp on this beautiful spring day, and those growing along the river bank near my house, exhibited their beautiful red brown bark and new green leaves; however, the one tall cypress that I had freed from the underbrush had no leaves. My friend Alvin remarked that the tree was definitely dead. As I looked up, it was hard to argue with him, because a cypress tree just ten feet away was full of new leaves, in stark contrast to this one tall, naked tree.

The following weekend, I looked at the low empty branches and said to my daughter that this tall cypress tree was dead. She looked way up above to the tiptop, however, and said, “Look, there are new green buds at the very top of the tree.” She was right. There was green fuzz on the top branches. This gave me a hint that the tree was alive. Two weeks later, I inspected my tall friend, and there were bushy green leaves throughout the top of the tree. They were working their way down—the lower branches were starting to sprout leaves. This was proof that the tree was alive and well. The growth started at the top and eventually worked its way down so everyone could see it.

Surprisingly, this lesson from nature had a direct application in my business and personal life. For quite some time, we had been experiencing a chronic cash-flow shortage in our small law firm. We had to delay creditors and incur business and consumer debt that I had never previously encountered. Living on credit cards had become a way of life. Refinancing my home did not spring loose needed cash for investment and expansion; instead, it was used for taxes, bills, and keeping my head above water. Also during this time, I was supporting both of my children, who were attending college full time without scholarships or student loans.

Throughout this period, I studied Christian Science more than ever; however, I found myself praying erroneously for money and trying to change the human and business scene. The worry
 and despair seemed to take over every time I tried to pray and hold to the absolute truth and reality of spiritual supply. Instead of being clear in my understanding that God is the only supplier, I found myself continually thinking of ways to find more clients and money. It was a vicious and nonproductive cycle.

Then one day I turned to articles on supply in the Christian Science Sentinel. The inspired writers helped me understand that supply and sustenance were not dollars and cents, and that I could never demonstrate spiritual supply as long as I held to a limited view of supply. They uniformly and simply explained that supply is made up of ideas from God, Mind—nothing more, nothing less. As I studied, I understood that supply was the unlimited flow of spiritual ideas, which, in turn, provide us with our daily needs in ways that we can use and appreciate.

The rest of that spring day in the country was spent in prayer, reading under that cypress tree in my yard. I also read an article in the Journal where the author described the disciples’ limited material view of a blind man, whose condition they blamed on his parents and heredity. The disciples began from the standpoint of the problem—blindness—and tried to understand and explain it by looking for a material answer for the material cause. But Jesus dismissed their attempts and emphatically said that no one had sinned, and that God would be manifested through this man. The blindness was healed. Jesus started at the top, the point of perfection and spiritual substance, rather than at the lower, limited material view. I looked up from my reading spot under the cypress tree to see that the green sprouts had spread to the bottom branches. It was so clear to me that this lesson from nature could be applied to my thinking and healing work: I must start at the very top of my thinking.

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind,—that God is Love, and therefore He is divine Principle. 

“To grasp the reality and order of being in its Science, you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is” (p. 275). This directly related to my prayers about supply. Seeing the growth at the top of the cypress tree as evidence of Life was quite a spiritual lesson to me. By knowing that unlimited supply and ideas are from the top—from infinite Spirit, God—I was putting my trust in Him to meet all my needs from top to bottom, just as I could trust that the cypress tree’s leaves would naturally spread to the lower branches. Although the lower branches appeared barren, they would soon be covered with green leaves. I likened this to my experience, and the need to provide food on the table, pay for college educations, and run my firm. Although it appeared that I was lacking material supply—just as the lower branches appeared barren—I could trust that growth started at the top with God, and supply was inevitable. 

When we are mentally fixed on God’s governing presence, and trust Him for daily supply, the mortal, limited view disappears. Supply is then seen from a spiritual perspective—God’s abundance of ideas meeting our every need. Once I grasped this spiritual concept, I experienced a dramatic change of supply at work. An unexpected criminal retainer fee was paid, and a seemingly impossible civil case was settled for a reasonable amount. I also received an influx of new cases at my law firm, enabling me to pay bills and run my business. These experiences helped me see that God is the only source and supply.

This beautiful springtime lesson on supply is not seasonal, but is a constant reminder of where our source of supply really exists, regardless of the time of the year. Starting with God, Spirit, as All, without any notion of a power or existence of anything unlike God, leads to growth in individual experience, for whatever is needed.

I still see my tall barren friend all during the winter and early spring. And now I have complete faith that its growth will start at the top and spread to other levels, for all to see and appreciate.

Eddie Castaing is a practicing trial attorney in New Orleans, Louisiana, and serves as Committee on Publication for Louisiana.

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