A few years ago, I was part of a study-abroad program where I had the opportunity to spend ten weeks in New Zealand. During our orientation class, it was made clear to the group that the program would be physically demanding, with lots of opportunities to hike, kayak, and canoe. Despite my initial apprehension, I was so excited to be headed to such a beautiful place that I felt sure that the rightness of these activities would lift me above any fears or doubts I had about physical limitation.
The first challenging hike came during the first week of the trip. After just the first few minutes of the hike, I felt very uncomfortable and unhappy—not only was the hike quite difficult, but I was frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with the group. I dropped to the back and began talking to a counselor who was traveling with the group. She was quick to dismiss the suggestion that I couldn’t make it up the mountain, and worked with me to fill my mental space with good thoughts. As I began to pray, however, I encountered a stumbling block: If my prayers were effective, what would be the result? I couldn’t seem to get around this question.
On the heels of that same doubt came an angel message from God, which brought clarity. A line from a hymn in the Christian Science Hymnal says: “Make channels for the streams of Love, / Where they may broadly run” (Richard C. Trench, No. 182). My interest dissolved in knowing what specific effect the prayer would have, as I realized that my work was to clear a space for Love to work. By fully embracing my spiritual identity, I could feel the full effect of God’s love and bear witness to the harmony that divine Love brings, and I found that the rest of the hike was uplifting and satisfying.