Last fall the Dean of Students at my college sent an e-mail to all the students informing us that he could tell just from watching us walk across the quad that we looked sick. He stated that once someone in any given dorm got the flu, it would spread like wildfire to everyone else in the dorm and that the best thing we could do was to sleep, sleep, sleep to "build and maintain a healthy immune system."
My initial reaction was one of shock that he had sent out such an e-mail. It struck me as incredibly unhelpful, as my instinct would not be to talk about disease in that way, because I think it only serves to spread fear, leading to more disease, not less. In addition, having come from a Christian Science high school where such an e-mail would have most likely included some helpful thoughts about how to metaphysically or spiritually address contagion or sickness—it was kind of a jolting approach for me.
I knew that I needed to pray. With that insight, however, came the sudden thought that I was alone. Barely three weeks into my freshman year, I had adjusted well to college life, but now I suddenly felt there was nobody I could turn to for spiritual support on this issue. So now, I not only had to address the fear of contagion and the frustration that the dean had sent out such a negative e-mail, but also the idea that I was without support. I did understand that the suggestions that I could be afraid or alone were untrue because those kinds of thoughts don't come from God, whom I know as divine Love. But I needed to back up my convictions with spiritual reasoning.
My first step was handling the fear of being alone. I focused on the idea that the laws of God are constants. They do not vary from place to place. These laws maintain our health, and they support, comfort, and guide us, wherever we go. The fact that I was no longer surrounded by other Christian Scientists was irrelevant to divine Truth, and in no way hindered my ability to understand or practice Christian Science. There was no need to panic because God's love fills all space—not just areas that are particularly dense with Christian Scientists! God is omnipresent. I prayed this way until I was completely at peace.
At that point, I began to focus on the second issue. I knew that all disease has a mental cause. Mary Baker Eddy says in Science and Health that "mortal mind, not matter,...carries the infection" (p. 153). So I felt slightly annoyed that the dean had sent out the e-mail, because it seemed to me that it was just spreading the infectious idea to everyone's thought—and therefore the infection. But I prayed to recognize that the dean's motive in sending out that e-mail had not been to freak us out or malpractice us, but to keep us happy and healthy. The dean had addressed the issue from his highest sense of right, and nothing bad could come of that.
I then looked up what else Mary Baker Eddy says about contagion in Science and Health. I came across this sentence: "Truth [God] handles the most malignant contagion with perfect assurance" (p. 176). And it just became so clear to me that it wasn't me, all alone, tackling the issue. God already had it under control—and He sure wasn't worried about His effectiveness. With that realization, I felt completely free—free of any sense of frustration or fear. Instead I felt love—love for the dean, love for the people around me—and I felt the presence of God's love for me and for everyone. And that was it.
I mentally held to what I knew to be true about the identity of each one of us — that we were whole and couldn't suffer—and I replaced any contrary suggestions with this spiritual truth.
However, everyone around me—in my classes, in my dorm, on my floor—seemed to be struggling with the flu. I mentally held to what I knew to be true about the identity of each one of us—that we were whole and couldn't suffer—and I replaced any contrary suggestions with this spiritual truth. I never so much as coughed, and within a week the whole campus situation had greatly improved. Two weeks later, the dorm and campus vibe was one of health and happiness. Furthermore, those who had noticed my health throughout the entire time and sensed my quiet support asked me about Christian Science, and I was provided with wonderful opportunities to share Christian Science with people on campus.
Liz Butterfield is a freshman at Amherst College in Massachusetts. She competes on the Amherst equestrian team.
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