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Unwrapping the healing gift of stillness

From the December 2020 issue of The Christian Science Journal

My favorite moments of recent Christmases have occurred in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Day. In the silent stillness, accompanied only by the twinkling lights from the Christmas tree, it’s easy to feel the power of the Christ-spirit that is at the heart of the sacredness of the season. I feel “quietude” and “eloquent silence” characterizing my thoughts (see Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 262).

But what about at other times, like when we have a huge to-do list, when there are too many bills that need paying, when we’re in the middle of a contentious family gathering, or dealing with any number of challenges from life during a pandemic? 

Even at these moments, Christ, the divine influence in human consciousness, is present to bring us the spiritual stillness that rescues us. The Bible articulates this stillness in terms of knowing God. It says in Psalms, “Be still, and know that I am God” (46:10). 

So, how do we “know God”? Mary Baker Eddy’s writings explain that “Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 89). And also, that we can “realize God’s presence, power, and love” (Unity of Good, p. 2). To realize is to have a full awareness of something. To be fully aware of God is to tune in to the divine presence that is beyond the senses. 

This does not necessarily require stopping our activity, but occurs as we let the Christ still our mental churning. Then, we can find a deep-settled calm and peace, even in the midst of a lot of things going on. The more the human, mortal view of life gets quiet, the more the wholeness of life in Spirit, filled with beauty and joy, is seen. 

There are only a few records in the New Testament of God speaking to Jesus. One comes shortly after he was baptized by John. Yet, it’s clear that Father and Son were in constant communication, silently, such as when Jesus went into the mountains to pray. This private conversation tuned Jesus in, through the Christ-spirit, to God’s divine presence. The poise Jesus had came from his awareness of and inseparability from God’s healing presence and power. Such mental stillness is a natural occurrence for us as children of God. 

As we cultivate an awareness of God’s divine presence as ever with us, we feel spiritual stillness. Acknowledging God’s goodness and peace working in our lives, we can take action from the standpoint of stillness—rather than feeling pulled by worries or demands. 

No matter how turbulent things might be, there is a stillness within that connects us with this divine presence. As we become conscious of God’s allness, we come to understand that the calm we seek isn’t a distant refuge; it is actually the reality of being within—infinite and universal. 

All our doing and planning and fixing and solving would have us thinking we need to rely on an extremely organized and ever-active human mind. But, as Eddy explained, “The best spiritual type of Christly method for uplifting human thought and imparting divine Truth, is stationary power, stillness, and strength; and when this spiritual ideal is made our own, it becomes the model for human action” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 93). 

Stillness as the model for human action is a revolutionary idea. And, it brings healing. Years ago, just before Christmas, I was struck with such intense pain in my neck and shoulders that I was forced to stop everything and lie completely still. I had been having bouts of tension and what seemed to be pinched nerves for a number of years, yet this was unlike anything I’d experienced before. In previous times, I’d prayed and found temporary relief. But on this day, I hungered for permanent freedom and deeper peace. 

It can take some effort to mentally stand still, to find “stationary power,” when we feel personally in charge of so many things—family needs, work, or even Christmas holiday celebrations. Yet we are each capable of this, and God as divine Love shepherds us every step of the way. To relinquish perfectionism, control, worry, and concern is to follow this shepherding with grace and humility. Eddy wrote about God: “Mind demonstrates omnipresence and omnipotence, but Mind revolves on a spiritual axis, and its power is displayed and its presence felt in eternal stillness and immovable Love” (Retrospection and Introspection, pp. 88–89).  

As I accepted this eternal stillness, the intensity of burden and stress melted away. And so did the tightness and pain. That was the last time my neck and shoulders seized up. 

As Christ fills consciousness, it leads us into silent conversation with God. The essence of spiritual stillness is felt during this communing, not only in good times but also in harder times. Whenever we honor this spiritual oneness with God, through Christ, as Jesus came to show us, we find ongoing stillness in our hearts. This is the healing gift that is not dependent on outward circumstances, but can be felt within, from one moment to the next. And perhaps, especially, in the wee hours of the morning on Christmas Day.

Larissa Snorek
Associate Editor

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