One of Mary Baker Eddy’s beloved hymns declares:
It matters not what be thy lot,
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 160)
Could there be anyone on this dear earth of ours who doesn’t long for a greater measure of peace? Surely, the idea that “pure peace” is ours under all circumstances—“storm or shine”—is a deeply comforting promise. But looking more closely at this promise, we see that it includes a condition: “So Love doth guide.” We need to be guided by Love, God, the divine Principle of Christ’s Christianity, in order to be blessed with this peace. Mrs. Eddy writes, “The Principle of Christian Science demonstrates peace” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 279).
Obedience to this rule of Love opens the way to understand and experience the indestructibility of peace, “storm or shine.” All of us are afforded endless opportunities to prove this. But there’s one opportunity I’ve never forgotten that occurred many years ago when I was out for a walk with my precious dog, Luke. It was a sparkling spring day, and I’d been pondering the oneness and allness of God and my unity with Him. And all I was feeling was “pure peace.”
I’d walked farther than usual and happened onto a public cul-de-sac that I’d never seen before. I hadn’t gone very far into it when I heard somebody screaming at me, telling me to turn around, get out, and take my dog with me. The woman’s anger, which seemed especially rattling against the beauty and peacefulness of the day, was like a sudden clap of thunder. I crossed to the other side of the street, feeling the need to pray until my peace had been restored.
I was perfectly clear on the spiritual fact that peace couldn’t, in reality, be lost. I knew it wasn’t a condition of the human mind, but an impersonal, ever-present quality of Soul, God, reflected throughout creation. However, this spiritual fact was merely theoretical—mere words—as long as I felt agitated and didn’t feel the universal, indivisible peace of God that was actually always embracing both the woman who seemed so irrationally angry, and me.
I had been committed for quite some time to understanding and living as best I could Mrs. Eddy’s foundational explanation of Christ Jesus’ flawless healing work. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, she writes: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick. Thus Jesus taught that the kingdom of God is intact, universal, and that man is pure and holy” (pp. 476–477).
It’s clear, based on this profound explanation of Jesus’ healing method, that to have seen this woman as a sinning mortal would have been to identify myself as a sinning mortal, separated from Love and its likeness, and therefore totally incapable of seeing or loving the spiritual, real man of God’s creating. Because to the material senses, matter and sinful mortals are all that is real.
But by identifying myself correctly—that is, “in Science” as the offspring and likeness of Spirit, divine Love—I could, with spiritual sense and to a degree, see through the illusory veil of mortal mind that seemed to define this woman. I could mentally behold her true spiritual selfhood, inseparable from Love—right in the very place where a sinning mortal seemed to appear to the suppositional, unreal material senses. I don’t recall how long I stood there, but at last I felt the same quiet sense of peace I’d felt when first walking onto that little street.
Then suddenly I heard a sweet voice call out, “Oh my, what a beautiful dog! May I pet him?” It was the same woman, and it was as though she had noticed me for the first time! I walked back to her side of the street and we engaged in a very pleasant conversation—as she stroked Luke. Then she unexpectedly began to pour out some problems she had, and I was able to talk with her about God’s great love and tender care for her. It was a precious time.
I found that acknowledging the presence of only one Mind in my day-to-day interactions could change the course of many conversations and experiences.
After, as before, this experience, I kept striving to see all creation “in Science,” to see the spiritual reality that divine Love creates and maintains—not just in situations in which there were offenses, misunderstandings, or disagreements, but no matter where I was or what I was doing. It became clear that Jesus didn’t just perceive God’s perfect spiritual creation when healing was needed. He consciously lived in that ever-present awareness of spiritual reality that is completely separate from the false supposition of material life. Fully cognizant of his unbroken unity with his Father, divine Love, he was always seeing through the illusion of a material creation. It was never real to him. As our “human and divine Master” (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 187), Christ Jesus was sent to us by the Father to illustrate the perfect coincidence of humanity and divinity.
My prayer was not only to practice the truth of my own unity with Love and recognize others only as God does—each, the perfect, Christly expression that God is perpetually revealing—but also to reject the material mentality that can behold only a “sinning mortal man.” I found that acknowledging the presence of only one Mind in my day-to-day interactions with people could deepen, and quickly change the course and character of, many conversations and experiences. Striving to daily practice the art of beholding “in Science the perfect man” paves the way to being able to deal with bigger challenges. Perhaps one could say that God always has us “in training” to see one another as He made each of us.
In fact, about five years after my experience with this woman, I discovered that my “training” was put to good use because I found myself involved for many months in a challenging legal case involving interrogatories and in-person depositions.
But the beauty of any genuinely scientific rule, however simple, is that, like mathematics, it’s applicable at any level of difficulty. In the Bible we read, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27), and it was this Christ, the influence of divine Love in human consciousness, that enabled me to hold to the image and likeness of God’s creating throughout this experience. And this sustained my peace.
It’s important to note here, however, that this wasn’t a case of “Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11) or a “false, convenient peace” (Miscellany, p. 211) that comes from ignoring sin. As in the experience mentioned earlier, the peace I felt in my heart came from letting Love destroy both sin and the belief in a “sinning mortal man.” The result was that injustice gave way to justice, the right adjustments were made, and the case was settled. It was clear that willpower, the depraved energy of the carnal mind that would destroy our peace, couldn’t stand up to the Holy Ghost, divine Science, the dynamic energy and will of infinite Love. With such simplicity, Science and Health declares, “Christian Science silences human will. . .” (p. 445).
“Peace I leave with you,” our Master told his disciples shortly before his crucifixion, “my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). Truly, Christ Jesus’ peace wasn’t worldly, wasn’t conditional on external circumstances. The brutal persecution and heart-rending ingratitude he endured would have made it impossible for him to experience peace if he had believed it to be dependent on circumstances and the evidence of the physical senses. No, the peace he was leaving with us was the unassailable peace—the kingdom of heaven already within us—that is realized through demonstrating our oneness with Love, our own sonship with God, who is the Father of all.
The scientific fact is that real peace on earth can only be understood and achieved in the context of one Mind, one Father of all creation—never in the error of a mind separate from God that opens the door to conflicting wills, opinions, and potential despotism. In a compelling statement unfolding the coincidence of the divine Mind with mankind, as well as mankind’s perfectibility, Mrs. Eddy writes: “It should be thoroughly understood that all men have one Mind, one God and Father, one Life, Truth, and Love. Mankind will become perfect in proportion as this fact becomes apparent, war will cease and the true brotherhood of man will be established” (Science and Health, p. 467).
At the moment, the world, seen through the lens of material sense, often seems to fall far short of this ideal. But our Master showed us the real view, the spiritual realm visible to spiritual sense, to the God-bestowed consciousness. He fully demonstrated through his all-encompassing teachings and incomparable healing works the nothingness of matter and evil and the allness of God, good.
So despite evil’s arguments of hatred, selfishness, lust, hypocrisy, mental manipulation, ignorance, inanity, revenge, malice, envy, greed, depravity, and cruelty, and in spite of the appearance of natural disaster, disease, terrorism, and war, Jesus’ demonstrated message of peace stands forever as our ideal on earth as in heaven—an ideal to be demonstrated by each individual. It is an achievable goal—as we’re willing, like Paul, to have the “old man . . . crucified with [Jesus]” (Romans 6:6), the old man representing the belief of a selfhood and identity apart from God, who is the only source of genuine peace. The real identity that we have right now can only be revealed through self-abnegation—through the willingness to renounce everything that makes up the “old man,” a so-called material man. Nothing else can lift the veil of matter and reveal the original oneness with Love that enables us to demonstrate our perfect selfhood.
To this end, each of us has to grapple with sin—particularly the fundamental error of material origin that Jesus’ virgin birth abolished. And we need the humility to let the light of Truth show us the false, material beliefs that are the only things that are ever nailed to the cross.
When the turbulence and chaos of mortal mind seem overwhelming, we can remember that our dear Master not only left us his peace—the true, divine peace that isn’t what “the world giveth”—but also followed this utterance with the comforting words, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Because, as Jesus showed us all, this pure peace is forever ours.
It matters not what be thy lot,
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,