There are many phrases particular to Australian-English, and one of my favorites is "good on you," or more accurately, "good on-ya." It's used when someone achieves something or does a good deed, and is comparable to the British "well done" or the American "good for you." What is so appealing about the Australian term is that it's almost like a blessing—"let good come to you."
Good is recognizable to all of us. It is usually what we genuinely want for ourselves and for others. But the term good covers a lot of ground, and there are many views of what actually is good.
Spiritually defined, good is another term for God. And the Bible confirms this throughout. For example, a verse from Psalms that refers to God states, "Thou art good, and doest good" (119:68). Good is therefore present and permanent—as real and indestructible as God. Contrary to the frequently accepted concept of it, good is not partial, doesn't come and go, and is not fragile. It is solid, apparent, spiritual reality. It not only surrounds us, but it is our essential substance, the fact of our being as children of God. We image good. It's all we can be, all we can see and experience. There is no separation from it nor opposite to it, though the supposed opposite is called evil. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in a sermon called Christian Healing, "God is All, and in all: that finishes the question of a good and a bad side to existence" (p. 10). According to the spiritual facts of the universe, including man, God, or good, is everywhere, and therefore evil is nowhere, having no place, power, authority, nor existence. Evil only seems to exist in the mortal mind, which is a fantasy. Divine Mind, God, or good, includes nothing unlike itself.
I PRAYED to understand that good is God's universal law. No one is excluded from its harmonious jurisdiction.
Evil is unclear thinking, like a mist. And although such a mist may appear to pass through our lives, it can never become our lives. Much like a garden of beautiful roses enveloped by a morning mist, the mist can't become part of the garden. It eventually yields to the sun. Yet, when one is looking onto that misty garden, or experiencing some form of passing evil, it may be hard to see the sunny truth. Sickness, nagging character flaws, frustration at work, poverty—these sorts of conditions can be pretty convincing that evil is real, and even permanent.
There is only one thing more convincing, and it's capable of showing us that the condition of the universe is always and forever good. It is the Christ. The Christ is Truth. It is what God knows and loves about His creation. Christ, God's messenger of good, conveys truths to our consciousness that overturn the most frightening propositions of diseases and discords and the most entrenched beliefs about our condition as mortal, vulnerable, expendable.
The convincing activity of the Christ, the loving assurance that God is in control of all, takes place in consciousness through deep, consecrated prayer. This sort of prayer, aimed at destroying the claims of evil, is Christian Science treatment. It upholds good.
During Christian Science treatment, thought opens completely to God and shuts down the material senses. Mary Baker Eddy stated in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent" (p. 89). Listening for God's angel thoughts—those of hope and healing—is an important part of treatment. This stillness may not come immediately, so persistent is the noise of the mortal sense of things, but if we insist on the right to commune silently with our Father-Mother, the way opens up for these delightful, healing ideas. There is nothing to compare with this kind of heavenly persuasion when it comes. We know that this divine influence is from God and that it is for us especially, though applicable to all. It gives a particular kind of lift to thought and to the heart, and we are changed.
In treatment, some reasoning with metaphysical truths often comes along naturally. Some helpful spiritual facts we might pray with include: God is All there is. God is Life. Life is eternal, vital, consistent, good. Good is all. There is nothing unlike His allness, His goodness. There is no interruption of good, no absence of good. Truth is real, substantial, reliable, good. So is Life! God, good, is Life, Truth. And so on....
Reasoning this way, and understanding God through the seven synonyms Mary Baker Eddy included in Science and Health (Life, Soul, Spirit, Principle, Love, Truth, Mind) brings a fuller sense of God's nature, and we feel His nearness. Of course, every time we turn to God and listen for healing ideas, something fresh and new comes. After a thorough session with these cleansing, powerful facts, as well as a thorough, specific denial of evil, the treatment might conclude with gratitude for what God is and is revealing to His child. It's a good idea to claim with resolve that the treatment is irreversible, complete, final, and effective. No two treatments are ever alike, for they originate in divine Mind, not in us. They take place within the allness of Mind and stand for the truth of the activities of Mind. In treatment, we surrender utterly to the good that is God, for all that God causes is unalterable good. This is Mind revealing itself.
I often liken treatment to a refreshing swim in a safe, sparkling harbor, and like a harbor the treatment does have perimeters. There is an end to the treatment, though the blessings from it stay with us. As a result of treatment, the facts of the enduring and real nature of good are proven.
When our children were very small, we lived in Holland for a time. Shortly after we moved in, I asked a neighbor if she knew of anyone who would like to help me once a week with housekeeping and baby-sitting. She referred me, with some reservations, to a woman in the village. Apparently the woman had lost a young daughter when she was struck by a passing car in front of their house. The mother, Annie, had suffered from depression ever since the accident. (It was described as a nervous breakdown.) We made an appointment, and during our visit, she was so withdrawn that she couldn't look at me. In fact, her eyes never left the floor, and her expression was so sad that her mouth actually turned downwards. Though I had never encountered such raw sadness, I felt impelled to hire her.
I was accustomed to praying daily, and my prayers, though not specifically for Annie, included our home. I maintained in prayer that home, as a spiritual idea, was not only the expression of God, but the very activity of God. Therefore, everything included in and around it was good. I prayed to understand that good is God's universal law. No one is excluded from its harmonious jurisdiction. As a line from one of the hymns in the Christian Science Hymnal reads,
The King of Love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack, for I am His,
And He is mine forever.
Everyone has this loving, rescuing Shepherd.
Annie and I worked side by side. Even though during those first months in Holland my Dutch was limited, and her English was nonexistent, we found ways to communicate. I was so appreciative of the way she scrubbed everything until a sparkle appeared! Gradually, the cloud above her head started to lighten. She began to stop by on her bike, even when she wasn't helping me, and would offer to pick something up at the market. She would bring flowers from the flower market, warm cookies from the market vendor, and the post from the box. My neighbor reported that Annie loved working for us. It seemed she couldn't do enough for us! Watching her was like watching a flower bloom.
When a trip came up for my husband and me, it seemed so natural to ask Annie if she would take care of our children for the week we would be away. I thought nothing of asking but was afraid she'd misunderstood by her reaction. She started to cry and left quickly. Again I prayed to confirm Love's present power, reaching every one of His children. I prayed to know that the progress and joy that I'd seen in this friend could not be temporary or fragile.
The next day she called and asked if I would come over to her house, which I did. She took me upstairs to show me a little bed, and a crib all made up to receive our children. (She had done quite a bit of rearranging, for she had three children of her own.) She wanted me to see how welcome our children were in their home and how well they'd be cared for. She also wanted me to know that when I asked her to look after our children she felt released from the torturous guilt and depression she'd felt over losing her own child. She realized that her sorrow was keeping her from being a good mother to her children, and that life was still worth living. She was overwhelmed that we considered her worthy of trusting. Her tears the night before had been tears of relief and joy!
After we moved from Holland to England a year and a half later, Annie took English lessons, and more significantly, driving lessons. Her family purchased their first car, and several years later they came to stay with us after we'd moved back to the States. She was a changed woman with a new outlook.
Good is a power. Annie's story reminds me of a simple truth from Science and Health: "... good is not helpless" (p. 207). God does not leave anyone out of His love. Good is not a variable; it finds us. It's a law that applies to situations like the one I've just related, as well as to health problems, financial issues, and any other situation where good appears diminished or absent. Right where the need is, good is present, discernible, and ready to bless.
Prayer reveals this good. Our readiness and willingness to see it are also factors. We must put off any doubts about the willingness and ability of God to supply good to us. When Jesus fed the multitudes, it's clear that his gratitude and expectation of good from God were so active that the good increased to meet the need in proportion to his expectation and love. A practical statement in Science and Health confirms this: "Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" (p. 261).
God is entirely good. His love for His creation urges us to see good—to know Him. The good we express enables us to have the full expectation of good. And good, alone.
Contributing Editor Rebecca Odegaard is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
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