When I was growing up, our family had something that no one else at my school had. In fact, as far I know, no one in our whole area had one. We had a tree house.
This was in southwest Saskatchewan, where there are very few trees since it's all prairie land. But I was fortunate because my grandparents had planted some trees on the land where we lived. One of these was a big maple.
My father and my oldest brother built a wonderful tree house in that maple for the three youngest boys in my family. The tree house was about 15 feet off the ground. It had a platform of about 12 feet by 12 feet. And it had a little picket fence around the outside to make sure that no one fell off.
But the best part of the tree house was what we called the trap door. You went into the tree house by climbing a ladder that came up through an opening in the middle of the platform. To get in, you had to open a door on hinges, climb from the ladder onto the platform of the tree house, and then shut the door. Once the door was shut, you could stand on it. Then it was very hard for someone else to get in.
My two brothers and I played pirates with each other and with our friends. When someone came up the ladder and wanted to get in through the trap door, those of us inside the tree house first asked them to say who they were. If we decided that they were friends rather than enemy pirates, we opened the door and let them up. Otherwise we stood on the door to make sure they couldn't get in.
The way we used that trap door to let in the good guys and keep out the bad is the same thing I do when I have to choose between good thoughts and bad thoughts. Mary Baker Eddy talked about this in Science and Health when she wrote, "Stand porter at the door of thought" (p. 392). Standing porter means standing guard, just like we did when we played pirates.
Did you ever think that thoughts could be divided into good and bad? Good thoughts are cheerful, healthy thoughts and make you feel peaceful. Bad thoughts are thoughts of selfishness, fear, and sickness. They don't come from God, because He is infinite Love. God only gives good, just like the sun only gives light and could never send darkness.
Christ Jesus was a perfect example of not letting in thoughts that weren't from God. He refused to think hateful, frustrated, or resentful thoughts, even though some people who didn't like him treated him badly. He refused thoughts of sickness, and so he was able to heal people. I like to think of Jesus as "standing porter" all the time.
Not long ago, a friend of mine, Dean, who was in fourth grade at the time, stood porter like this, too. Arriving at Sunday School one morning he told his teacher that he had a headache. During class they talked about the Ten Commandments (see Exodus, chapter 20 in the Bible) and about God's power to heal. Toward the end of the class, Dean announced that his headache was gone. By listening only to thoughts that were good and from God, Dean closed the trap door on pain.
Even though you might not have a tree house with a trap door like we did, you can still practice "standing porter." As my friend discovered, good things happen when you let only the good thoughts in.
Lyle Young is a teacher and practitioner of Christian Science in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
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