For many people, good has become almost a trite word. Someone asks, “How are you doing?” and we automatically reply, “I’m good.” We’re asked by a loved one, “How was your day?” and we say, “It was good.” We don’t think twice about the depth of the word good, and in fact it is often thought of as a word without much depth or meaning at all.
Yet the Bible says in Genesis, “God created the heaven and the earth. … And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (1:1, 31). Thank goodness that when the Bible refers to the way God created the heaven and the earth, the word good means so much more than the blandness it’s so often given today!
I had an experience last summer that completely changed the way I view the word good, and the way I approach challenges and struggles I face. It’s difficult for me to capture and put the experience into words, but the insight I gained has meant more to me than any other revelation I’ve had in Christian Science.
I looked out at the world and knew with my whole heart that the impenetrable goodness of the Christ, the light of God, prevailed absolutely everywhere.
Last August I had just completed a summer as a counselor at Camp Newfound, a summer camp for Christian Scientists in Harrison, Maine. It was the last day of camp, and all the campers had left. The counselors, myself included, had spent the day cleaning camp. When all tasks were complete, I went back to my cabin to rest before dinner.
Around me I saw the lake, surrounded by pine trees stretching up to the bright, shining sun. All was calm except for a heavy afternoon wind, which made whitecaps on the lake and blew through the window to my bed. There was a surrounding beauty, remarkable and soothing, that the human eye couldn’t deny.
Then an odd feeling began to wash over me, and something felt different, almost indescribable. I kept a journal next to my bed, so I began to write, in the hope of figuring out what felt so unusual. I only got about three or four sentences written when suddenly the abnormal feeling grew stronger and bigger. What was this feeling that was overtaking me? I wasn’t quite sure what it was or if I wanted it, but I couldn’t stop it.
And then, there I was, still sitting on my bed, with nothing having changed in my surroundings—but the change in what I saw was incredible. I was no longer looking at merely a lake and a sunny sky. I saw more than just the physical beauty of nature and a place I loved. My lens of vision had changed from the material to the spiritual, and I saw that I was surrounded by the infinite beauty of spiritual goodness, not visible to the human eye, but tangible beyond words to human consciousness. It filled the innermost corners of my being. I saw goodness. There it was, everywhere! All around me, goodness was lighting up the whole earth.
Through my bursting tears of amazement, I managed to write in my journal: “The only thing that exists is goodness.”
Not just for a moment, but for about 45 minutes, I saw the goodness of the Christ and all its bountiful glory.
Years before, I had read an article called “The activity of the Christ” by L. Ivimy Gwalter, which gave me a strong understanding of the Christ. The article says that the Christ “shows forth God’s infinite knowing—the glory of spiritual being, the radiance of spiritual might.…The Christ is always present, always active, always potent, always complete. That which the Christ reveals is itself, God’s perfect manifestation” (The Christian Science Journal, December 1957). With this understanding of the Christ as the power and presence of God, I knew that what I saw in this experience was a clear, spiritual view of the Christ.
I looked out at the world and knew with my whole heart that the impenetrable goodness of the Christ, the light of God, prevailed absolutely everywhere. Not just in my life, not just where I was in my immediate surroundings, but throughout the whole world I was glimpsing how goodness reigned.
I couldn’t stop the tears from streaming because I’d never seen anything more beautiful in my life. A light seemed to shine on everything and illumine the world not only with this sense of divine goodness, but also a sense of comfort that instantly dispelled all fear and doubt that I had ever felt. Just like that, everything made so much sense. Why do we worry? What convinces us that something is bad? Why would we ever feel unhappy? Why would we believe in anything but goodness?
The only thing that exists is goodness. Can you grasp the magnitude of that statement? For those 45 minutes or so, I did. I didn’t want to leave my bed or even move, because I didn’t want to lose this immense clarity about the Science of being. I just wanted to keep looking out at the Christ, this light of God, that stretched through every region of the world and the whole universe.
Mary Baker Eddy tells us in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “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” (p. 261). Since having this experience, I’ve cherished that statement every day. I cling to it, and to what I saw in those 45 minutes, whenever a challenging situation comes up, making sure I do not even look into the depths of the dark suggestions of mortal mind. I’ve been presented with numerous challenges since last summer, but I’ve held on to that vision of absolute goodness and used it to denounce every struggle as absolutely unreal.
By no means am I the only one who has seen something like this—the Christ, that protects the whole world and exists as the sole reality of omnipresent Love, God. Regardless of how you might define it, most of us have seen or felt this light of the Christ at some time or another, at least in a small way, even if for only a second. From that experience, we each have at least a starting point from which to find peace, health, and happiness in whatever situation we may face. If we believe with our whole heart in the truth of that moment when we saw or felt the Christ, then we know too well the reality of goodness than to believe error when it tempts us, and we can crush its suggestions every time. We can adhere to the time when we felt the Christ, because it stands as a precedent for everything in our lives.
With that beautiful awareness of absolute goodness, we win peace for ourselves, knowing that no matter what the material picture looks like, God provides us with whatever we may feel we’re lacking, including health, purpose, happiness, supply, and love. When we remember the reality of the allness of God, good, nothing can tear us away from the peace this brings.
And so, perhaps we all can deeply consider the word good. The dictionary lists some of its synonyms: grace, honesty, integrity, kindness, righteousness, virtue, honor, kindliness, nourishment, worth, wholesomeness, generosity, and uprightness. The word good encompasses so much more than how it’s so commonly used today. With this newfound definition and understanding of goodness, we can more profoundly appreciate what the Bible says: “God created the heaven and the earth. … And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” What a wonderful promise we can cling to, one that has enormous depth, that reigns throughout every spectrum of the universe, and has been established from the beginning of creation.
Karina Olsen will be a senior in the fall at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois, and is from Wilton, Connecticut.