When a dear friend passed on a couple of years ago, I felt a big void in my life. One day when I had something to share with her—but couldn't—I realized how much I missed our conversations. Yearning to find my peace, I remembered some familiar words from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: "The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man" (p. 284). This concept seemed to fly in the face of my daily experience since I'm in communication with people every day and did communicate with this friend before she passed on. Does intercommunication solely from God negate all our conversations with others?
As I prayed to understand this better, another idea popped into thought: Sometimes we get light from the moon. Since I know that moonlight is actually light reflected from the sun, I understood this thought as a gentle message from God reminding me that He truly is the source and communicator of all good. That I and everyone, including my friend, as reflections of God, receive and continue to receive our good thoughts directly from Him. This assured me that none of us can ever be separated from good, from the ideas, inspiration, and help we need because we can never be separated from God. The good my friend and I received and shared with each other all came directly from our divine Source. In fact, the reflected goodness of God was actually the substance of our friendship.
This also nudged me to stop limiting the ways and means that good could come into my life. For instance, I didn't need to depend on any particular person for my life to be complete. I could fully expect God's goodness to provide exactly what I needed, when I needed it. I could let go of what I thought I wanted and open up to God's eternal goodness, which is continually communicating to me and everyone. I just needed to stop and listen.
Thinking further about this, I realized I have heard God's voice speaking to me in many different ways throughout my life. For example, I've had many instances when out of the blue someone mentioned something that exactly met my need without my soliciting anything from them.
I also had what appeared to me as a communication from my mother who passed on a number of years ago. A few days after her passing, I saw a clear vision of her in which she said to me, "You must forgive them." At the time, I had been upset with some of the care that she had been given. But through this vision I was being urged to forgive them and move on, which I then did. This vision also assured me that my mother continues to exist and progress with no end to her life. I realized that her spiritual, eternal life had been untouched by anyone's mistakes.
In the chapter "Christian Science versus Spiritualism" in Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy stated that it is impossible to communicate with the dead because of the different states of thought of those here and those who have passed on—just as we can't communicate with someone sleeping and dreaming beside us (see p. 82). Yet, many people claim to have seen loved ones who have passed on.
Mrs. Eddy explained this phenomenon: "Mortals evolve images of thought. These may appear to the ignorant to be apparitions; but they are mysterious only because it is unusual to see thoughts, though we can always feel their influence. ... Seeing is no less a quality of physical sense than feeling. Then why is it more difficult to see a thought than to feel one? Education alone determines the difference. In reality there is none" (Science and Health, p. 86). Continuing along these lines, she wrote, "Though individuals have passed away, their mental environment remains to be discerned, described, and transmitted. Though bodies are leagues apart and their associations forgotten, their associations float in the general atmosphere of human mind" (p. 87).
From this explanation, I concluded that the vision of my mother was a thought picture that came to me to receive a message I needed to hear. And it came to me in a way that I could grasp. This was not a "spirit" or "ghost" communicating to me or through me. The vision was simply a thought picture. And isn't that really all we ever see with our eyes? Even seeing a dead body is in a sense seeing a thought picture. The real individual never dies. A dead body represents the thought or, in other words, the belief that a person lived in a body but has now left that body.
I could let go of what I thought I wanted and open up to God's eternal goodness, which is continually communicating to me and to everyone.
Just as our five senses cannot explain the disappearance of the sun at night, those senses cannot explain the eternity of a life that has to all appearances come to an end. In both instances we need to look beyond the physical senses. In the case of the sun, astronomy tells us the sun hasn't disappeared or even moved at all. In the case of death, divine Science assures us that life hasn't ended for anyone because life is eternal.
I have also found these words of Mrs. Eddy comforting and encouraging: "When we shall have passed the ordeal called death, or destroyed this last enemy, and shall have come upon the same plane of conscious existence with those gone before, then we shall be able to communicate with and to recognize them" (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 42).
With these ideas in mind, I have been feeling a greater appreciation for several people who are no longer directly in my life as well as for those around me. I have also found friendships in unexpected places. My need for sharing ideas and joys with others continues to be met, too.
And I still hold dear to my heart the wonderful good that my friend expressed and shared with me, and I know that she and my mother—all those who have passed on—continue to reflect and communicate God's goodness in their unique, eternal ways.
Elisabeth Salm and her husband, Lyle Young, live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.